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Watercare must come clean over water plans!

Watercare must come clean over water plans!

“North Shore and other residents across the region have a right to know what plans Watercare has to increase their water costs.” North Shore City councillor and Strategy and Finance Committee Chairman Dr. Grant Gillon said today.

"Auckland Mayor John Banks let the cat out of the bag this week when he revealed details of a secret Watercare briefing that will see water charges skyrocket on the North Shore in 18 months time,” said Dr. Gillon.

“Watercare is owned by the ratepayers, and it is obscene to have a bunch of Watercare bureaucrats cooking up plans for a new regional water charging regime behind closed doors without letting the public in on their big secret.”

“Insiders suggest that they are planning to roll out the user-pays charging used in Auckland City onto the North Shore and elsewhere, severely penalising families and people with pools and gardens, around half of all North Shore residents.”

“Waiting for the Watercare plans to be rubber stamped by the new Auckland Council is simply a device to remove the issue from proper public scrutiny in the election, and Watercare must come clean with ratepayers over their plans, and not just give a secret briefing to one of the Mayoral candidates.”

“We actually have John Banks to thank for ‘outing’ Watercare. It is now up to Watercare to let the rest of us in on their big secret,” Dr. Gillon said.

Dr. Gillon said he fully expects Watercare to deny that any firm and final plans exist and to play dumb over the issue so as to deflect any public outcry over their secrecy.

“Their plans are clearly at a stage when they can share them with John Banks, and sufficiently radical to set alarms bells off in his mind, so the usual corporate spin, cover up and diversion will not cut the mustard this time,” Dr. Gillon said.

“When lined up with the recent changes to the Local Government Act to allow contracting out of water services for a generation, and legislation currently before the House placing water quality standards under threat, we have a right to know what Watercare is cooking up for the region’s water users.”

Dr. Gillon added that water charges on the North Shore have remained fairly stable for nearly seven years now because the local council has a direct say in the charging system and the tariffs, a level of community control that will be lost once the expanded Watercare takes control of the region’s water and wastewater, and the Council is relegated to simply setting high level ‘statements of intent’ for them.

ENDS

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