Untroubled Waters?

From Planet 231

by Paddy French

Paddy French argues that Welsh Water is little more than a privatised business, dressed up as a ‘not-for-profit’. He details how much he believes the company has overcharged its customers, including many of its poorest, and how this connects to a wider phenomenon in Welsh public life of the ‘edifice complex’.

In 2015 there was a march to mark the 50th anniversary of the drowning of the village of Capel Celyn in the Tryweryn valley near Bala to provide water for Liverpool. Tryweryn was a key moment for many – Dafydd Wigley, for example, has said it was responsible for bringing him into politics. As the march was taking place, however, there was not a ripple of concern at the way the water industry in Wales is currently run. While Corbyn’s Labour is planning to replace ‘our dysfunctional water system with a network of regional publicly-owned water companies’, according to its election manifesto, Welsh Labour believes Welsh Water should stay in the private sector. An internal Welsh Water document in December last year noted that the ‘policy of English re-nationalisation … will not apply in Wales as the Welsh Labour party have said they support our model’. It isn’t just Labour – the rest of the Welsh political establishment seems to share the same view.

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