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Dump user-pays Waitakere

Citizens Against Privatisation

Dump user-pays Waitakere: CAP demands a fairer charging system for water. Call for public support at WCC offices (Moselle Ave, off Lincoln Rd Henderson) Wednesday 6pm June 11th for CAP’s presentation to Councils Long Term Community Plan Consultation.

“For the first time WCC is reviewing user-pays for water and embracing the publics desire to see water as a public service. It’s the 11th hour for an intense collective community campaign to deliver Waitakere water as a public service paid for through a progressive rating system. Everyone who believes in these concepts should come along to the Council offices at 6pm 11th June. CAP will also voice our opposition to the planned user-pays toll charges and the public/private partnership to construct and operate the motorway bridge over the Whau river.” (see above attachment ‘CAP submission for more details’) Says Meredydd Barrar (CAP spokesperson)

CAP member Dean Murray (pictured above) evokes the tradition of the town crier to present yet another 2000 submissions opposing user-pays for water, defining it as a human right and a public service. Presented to Deputy Mayor Caroline Stone and Councillor Penny Hulse on Friday 23rd May 2003. In total the Council received 2400 submissions to the LTCCP consultation!!

Since 1997 Citizens Against Privatisation has campaigned resolutely against user charges for water, collecting 14 thousand submissions and petitions accompanied by vigorous pickets, protests and public meetings with many joining a boycott of water charges in 2001 and hundreds more pledged to join. A number of, which faced prosecution initiated by the previous right-wing “Go Waitakere”, dominated council. This was a major factor that led to all those councillors losing their seats in the last local elections.

Mr Murray says – “In total CAP has collected 16000 submissions expressing the community will on these issues. They should all be taken into consideration as part of the Councils Long Term Community Plan.”

In what may prove to be the final stage in this protracted community campaign against the commercial ethic and user charges introduced by previous councils as a prelude to privatisation is under way with the publication of the draft Long Term Council Community Plan and the opportunity for the public to make submissions.

In recent months the present council has recognised the deep routed community concern around these issues undertaking to treat the domestic supply of water as a public service and a human right rather than a commercial activity and a commodity, and to review funding options under the current ten-year draft plan. Also WCC has been instrumental in stopping the formation of one large commercial water company for the whole of the region being promoted by Auckland’s Water Review. As well as this WCC submitted to the then Draft Local Government Act it’s opposition to clauses allowing franchising of water services defining this as privatisation. They have also consistently opposed the agenda of Watercare promoting Waikato water as a source for the area. “This is a major step forward for public ownership and sends a strong message far beyond the boundaries of Waitakere to those politicians and Councils who continue to push for this bankrupt commercial agenda. Waitakere are now becoming a bulwark and their reputation is being enhanced regionally, nationally and internationally. WCC received submissions from Aucklanders who are sick of Metrowater and as far afield as Germany were some municipalities are pushing for privatisation.” Says Mr Barrar

Of the three funding options now under consideration, CAP has consistently campaigned for fully rates funded supply as the one best fitted to the needs of low-to-middle income majority.

In terms of the status quo user-pays a recent W.C.C Water Funding Focus Group has determined that the extent of the subsidy of the richer by the poorer has varied from $0 to $400 per household per annum, with the greatest penalties incurred by the households of lowest property value- i.e. precisely those least able to pay! The report of its findings (Consultation Options for the Funding of Water) was presented to the Council’s Finance and Operational Performance Committee 12/11/2002 and adopted by Council. Conversely, those on the highest valued properties have benefited from the highest annual rate decreases of around $600. Were this situation turned around, the majority of properties in Waitakere valued below $80,000.and consuming around or more than the citywide average of 180-m3 p.a. would be better off. A large family in a low valued Ranui property, for instance, would annually recover a sorely needed $250 or more.

Believing that water conservation targets are achievable by education together with a suitable system of rebates for successful conservation and the provision of water saving devices, CAP regards ‘user-pays’ for water charging as unnecessary to attainment of such targets and therefore, from the viewpoint of public service, undesirable. CAP are calling on everyone who supports a fairer charging system for water to support OPTION 2 pertaining to water in the 10 year annual plan consultation. OPTION 2 is the fully rates funded option. CAP believes that this will bring major benefits to the low-average income majority especially to family households with children and indeed to institutions like schools and hospitals. Many schools have sent in submissions supporting OPTION 2. At the same time, it will send a clear message to other politicians locally, nationally and globally that to follow a corporate agenda is to commit political suicide.

CAP’s submission and community submission appear above as attachments.

Meredydd Barrar spokesperson Citizens Against Privatisation

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