Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Welsh water firm sold down the river

Dee Valley Water, which supplies about 260,000 customers in north-east Wales and Cheshire, has been sold to Severn Trent for £78.5m.

The company has now suspended talks on an alternative takeover bid with the investment firm Ancala, which had bid roughly £71.3m.

There's a certain logic in seeing this huge company swallow a small local firm (it employs about 190 people) that's been profitable and reasonably efficient in supplying homes to this area for a century in various guises.

It was formed in 1864 as the Wrexham Waterworks company and became the Wrexham and East Denbighshire Waterworks Company in 1882. It continues to have a large presence at Pentrebychan. It turned over a profit of £6.6m last year on a £22m turnover. 

Crucially, the average water bill (excluding sewerage, which is the remit of Dwr Cymru in this part of the country) for Dee Valley Water is £145 a year. In Severn Trent it's £172. Will Wrexham consumers be expected to pay that sort of price for our own water?

It's also worth noting that Severn-Trent's chief exec gets £2.097m a year while Dee Valley's gets £135,000. But Dee Valley is an accredited Living Wage employee. Severn Trent is not.

Severn Trent makes much of its £500m annual profits from selling on water it distributes from reservoirs in Wales to customers in England.


Its reservoirs in mid Wales (including the Elan Valley) are a huge natural resource serving shareholders rather than the people of Wales.

 Welsh water should be in the hands of the people of Wales and used for public good not private greed. Let's have public control of our water rather than seeing foreign multinationals profit from it.

 In the interim we should demand that OFWAT, the water regulator, ensures that:

• Jobs and local services remain in Wales rather than be centralised in Birmingham

• Bills do not increase to match those in the rest of Severn Trent

• Living Wage status for Dee Valley workers is maintained

1 comment:

Michael Cawood said...

Please not the Welsh Water PLC is a separate company and is not connected with Dee Valley Water or Severn Trent.