Government ‘drowning in spin’ over water charges: Close

ALLIANCE Finance Spokeperson Seamus Close has said the Government is drowning in a whirlpool of spin over water charges for Northern Ireland. Mr Close was speaking after a letter he received from the Regional Development Minister directly contradicted information provided in a public information leaflet on water reform.

Mr Close said that in the leaflet ‘Water Reform Northern Ireland – Your Invitation to Take Part’, a question was posed asking ‘Do I not already pay a water charge as part of my rates bill?’ The answer was ‘No’ (see ).

Mr Close said: “This leaflet delivered to homes was unambiguous, and said the public do not pay water charges. Yet the Minister in her letter finally said the exact opposite. The Government seems to be so immersed in its own torrent of spin, that it has sunk the message.

“The problem seems to be that the Government understands that we pay for our water indirectly through the regional rate, but found it hard to admit. Now that the Minister has publicly stated that Northern Ireland pays for water, she should ensure that rates are reduced when the Government inevitably introduces direct charges.

“The flood of obfuscation continues when the Minister writes in her letter that metering hasn’t been ruled out. Yet the leaflet through my letter box said that the former Executive had already ruled it out, and the Minister has no plans to change that.

“However, metering is the most transparent system of charging for water, as what you pay for is what you get. To deny the public the choice of the fairest system would be anti-democratic. After the election, I will work to ensure that the people will not be ripped off and demand that the Government reduces rates to compensate for any new water charges. No-one should pay for their water twice.”

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