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Top council boss homes water row

PUBLISHED: 12:56 06 August 2008 | UPDATED: 10:00 23 August 2010

WATER companies face a public inquiry as a council leader challenges bosses over plans for future supplies for new homes. On Monday Kent County Council s cabinet met and urged Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, to hold the inquiry. Members said they ar

WATER companies face a public inquiry as a council leader challenges bosses over plans for future supplies for new homes.

On Monday Kent County Council's cabinet met and urged Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, to hold the inquiry.

Members said they are "deeply concerned" that customers could be hit by higher bills if the water suppliers fail to work more closely together.

Paul Carter, KCC leader and cabinet chairman, said: "There is a great danger of houses being built without adequate water supplies and sewerage facilities.

"We have major concerns that the five Kent water companies have not yet come up with satisfactory plans to deliver effective water supplies and sewerage disposal facilities to run in advance of the massive housing growth agenda planned by the Government for Kent.

"At present, 6,600 homes a year are being recommended in Kent and Medway until 2026."

Last month the Reporter revealed that Dartford's house building targets had increased by 9.5 per cent to 17,340 houses by 2026. Gravesham sees no increase on the initial south-east plan target but must still build 9,300 in the same time frame.

KCC recommends a strategic tariff on new developments to pay for better water efficiency for existing homes.

At the same time, the council wants vulnerable families protected against higher bills if compulsory metering is introduced in future.

Five water companies provide supplies to Kent residents South East, Folkestone and Dover, Southern, Thames, and Sutton and East Surrey.

Plans for the next 25 years until 2035 are being devised, but have to be approved by the Secretary of State.

Mr Carter added: "In addition, Cabinet is highly concerned that the additional infrastructure costs will eventually fall on the residents of Kent through water rate increases, which are adjudicated upon by Ofwat."

KCC set out in the Towards 2010 document to 'lobby Government, the water companies and developers to ensure that house building programmes do not threaten Kent's water supplies'.

michael.adkins@archant.co.uk

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