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Public Watchdogs Barking Up The Wrong Tree ???

Public Watchdogs Barking Up The Wrong Tree ???

Media Release Water Pressure Group

PUBLIC WATCHDOGS BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE ??? (Health Hazards created by Metrowater)

Metrowater Ltd has been issuing media statements blaming the Water Pressure Group for exposing the public to health risk when reconnecting water supplies. Today, we learn from reporters that the Health Department has taken up the same mantra. The Water Pressure Group's turn-on squad now has 25 members with new people being trained daily.

Water Pressure Group media spokespersons Jim Gladwin and Penny Bright said today: "Last year, Metrowater tried to claim that what the group did was highly dangerous because of work practices.. That was proven to be false. Great care is taken by the people in the squad and raod cones and barriers are used where required.. Metrowater claim that our members are "bludgers and stealers". This is hardly the description of people who voluntary give their time and effort to help other ordinary citizens to make their stand to abolish the water company."

DISCONNECTIONS ARE THE THREAT TO HEALTH (see BBC article below)

"Overseas experience shows that DISCONNECTIONS are the cause of health risk. The state that Metrowater leaves cut-off residents' pipes in has to seen to be believed. Not only do they hacksaw and otherwise wreck fittings in their efforts to frustrate the group's turn-on squads, but also they often leave the site with open ended fittings in mud and stagnant water. We have even seen tiger slugs crawling around the meter box where the meter has been removed."

RECONNECTION PROCEDURES

This week, many large scale reconnections have been performed. This entails a squad of at least four people - over a period of up to four hours - fitting new pipework, cleaning every part thoroughly - then turning the street water main down to enable new valves to be installed into the main. The cost of the fittings is borne by the citizen who has had the water supply disrupted. At no point is there a lack of pressurised water in the main, so there is no chance of any foreign matter entering the reticulation.

"It is hardly in our interests to contaminate our own water supply" said Penny Bright and Jim Gladwin.

PUBLIC WATCHDOGS or CORPORATE LAPDOGS ???

"The Water Pressure Group and people in it have approached the City Council, the Ombudsman, the Auditor General, and the Health Department over their concerns regarding water supplies. To date, we have had no positive message from any area, and THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT APPEARS TO SERVING METROWATER INSTEAD OF THE PEOPLE". Jim Gladwin and Penny Bright continued. "It seems that public watchdogs in New Zealand have adapted to accept a new right market environment that is recognised internationally as being badly flawed."

"People are realising that only by standing together throughout the community do we have any chance of achieving justice and the people's wishes - and that is precisely what is happening in the Water Pressure Group."

"People attempt to take Small Claims Court cases - Metrowater prevents them from proceeding. The Mayor and Councillors promise "genuine consultation", ask for public input, then ignore it - politicians break election promises to abolish Metrowater - the watchdogs bark up the wrong tree. We have a Human Rights Commissioner who is also a Director of Metrowater Ltd. She is remaining very silent over the rights of disconnected citizens. The other very silent Director is the gentleman who is also a Director of North Health. Contrast this dismal performance with the British Medical Assoc." (SEE BBC ARTICLE BELOW)

THE POSITION IN THE UK All English and Welsh water services were privatised ten years ago. This was an hugely unpopular move and as the article below shows, about 600 people are disconnected every year.

"Since the Water Pressure Group wastewater bills boycott campaign began last February, there have been close to 600 disconnections already. Not bad, for one smallish city." _______________________ http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/newsid_216000/216568.stm TEXT OF ARTICLE ON BBC WEBSITE 18.11.98 Wednesday, November 18, 1998 Published at 12:16 GMT UK Government to ensure right to water Around 600 people in the UK have their water disconnected every year.

The government is expected to unveil a list of reforms for the water industry on Wednesday - including a possible ban on disconnections. Environment Minister Michael Meacher will outline the government's response to a consultation paper, published in the spring, which looked at the relationship between water companies and customers. He is widely expected to withdraw water companies' right to cut off supplies to non-payers. Immediately after privatisation the number of disconnections increased dramatically but it has since fallen sharply.

'Essential for public hygiene' An outright ban on disconnections would be welcomed by health authorities and GPs, who say depriving families of a resource vital for life is socially wrong and poses a serious health risk. The government is also expected to announce more protection for the low paid over their water bills.

Homeowners will be able to stay unmetered if they wish, or have a water meter on trial for a year. Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Tom Brake has urged the government to spell out its position on water supplies. He said: "Do they support or oppose universal water metering and do they have a timetable for introducing it? "Consumers need to know. If they intend replacing water charges which are mainly based on rateable values, it must be something simple which reflects people's ability to pay." Mr Brake said: "Disconnections have to stop. Denying access to water for some of the country's most vulnerable people is a denial of a basic human right."

The British Medical Association said that the move ended a potential threat to health. Dr Sarah Taylor, chairman of the association's public health committee, said: "Basic hygiene in food preparation in the home to protect from E. Coli and salmonella involves hand-washing and toilet-flushing, and you need adequate supplies of water for that."

However, she said, people on low incomes limit the amount of water they use. "Changing the charging system and making it illegal to disconnect them will remove a threat to their health."

ENDS _______________________

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