Wednesday, 22 December 2010

London Assembly demand assurances on Thames Tideway Tunnel

Remember our Council's dire warnings about "super sewer stink holes" opening up with "craters" littering our precious Furnival Gardens courtesy of evil Thames Water, whose nasty scheme for a "super sewer" was even going to make people homeless?

Apart from it being a very expensive propaganda campaign full of falsehoods which was dismisssed as such by fellow Conservative councils, the Mayor of London and the current Government it was also an excercise that meant our Council lost all credibility on the issue.

Which was a shame because there are actually genuine questions to be asked of Thames Water who quite rightly say that the discharging of 39 million tons of untreated sewage into the Thames every year is unacceptable, not to mention the flooding problems that we experience in W12 and W6 as a result of old Victorian sewers just not being able to cope with rainwater and poo at the same time, in ever growing amounts.

Such as how much it actually needs to cost and how will it actually be built - questions that are now being taken up by the Greater London Authority in their report following these hearings at which both Richard Aylard of Thames Water and our own Council Leader Clllr Greenhalgh appeared a few months ago. I was there for the blog.

The Committee's report, or "response" as it's called below, asks for assurances on the following:

Costs to customers

The Committee is concerned that the full costs of the Tunnel to Londoners are not yet known. Thames Water has estimated that customers will face an additional charge of £60-£65 per year, but no-one knows how long these charges will last. It is also not clear how the most vulnerable customers will be protected if they cannot afford to pay their water bills.

The response says it is disappointing that customers are being asked to comment on the proposal without clearer information on how much it will eventually cost them. It calls for Thames Water and Ofwat to publish these details as soon as possible.

The Committee believes there is a role for London’s political leaders in the planning decision but it may be problematic for multiple boroughs to undertake separate planning processes. Therefore the Government should consider how the Mayor could co-ordinate the planning process for the tunnel proposal.

Committee Members also say the continuing uncertainty over the planning process should be ended as soon as possible after the consultation period.

Employment benefits
The response says there should be a clear strategy for maximising the employment of Londoners in the construction of the Tunnel. Ambitious targets should be set, which Thames Water’s contractors should have to fulfil.

These are questions that our own Council could and should be asking on our behalf - but after coming out with so much baloney at public expense about this scheme they are just not listened to on this anymore. And the real losers of that situation are you and I.

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