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Residents’ worst fears realised

Residents’ worst fears realised

From July Wellington and Hutt City’s water will be under the control of a profit making company. On Wednesday, Wellington City Council agreed to establish a joint water management unit with Hutt City Council as a council-controlled trading organisation.(Those who opposed this: Councillors Stephanie Cook, Bryan Pepperell and Helene Ritchie). Council controlled trading organisations are empowered to operate for the purpose of making a profit. They then come under commercial law and their operations can remain closed to the public under “commercial sensitivity”.

Wellington Residents’ Coalition, an organisation which campaigns for assets to remain in public ownership, is angry at the decision. Spokesperson, Ron Oliver ,says, “This is an appalling breach of trust by our Council”.

When asked, Wellingtonians who made up the majority of those who signed WRC’s petition (over 20.000) against the commercialisation of water have consistently said that water should be a core activity of Council and should not be used to make a profit .The council has continually tried to reassure the public that privatisation and user pays was not part of their agenda. “This shows the public’s suspicions in engaging in the Council’s water reviews over the last few years have been well founded, “ he said. “ Although Wednesday’s council meeting noted that the new unit will be managed on a non-profit, breakeven basis, the only reason to establish a trading organisation is to make a profit,” Oliver pointed out. Once an activity like water is delegated out to a council-controlled trading organisation, it becomes open to ongoing competition from private companies and can fall into the control of large multinational companies. Where this has happened price has risen and quality declined”.

This means the Council stepping back and trusting our water to market forces. Just what the Residents’ Coalition did not want. The Coalition will continue to campaign against the devolution of Council responsibilities to the public

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