This in from Andrew Turner’s office, in their own words. Ed
Following a debate in Parliament held by the Island’s MP, Andrew Turner earlier this year, a meeting has taken place between senior staff from Southern Water and representatives of Chillerton residents who believe they are entitled to water at a reduced rate under a legal agreement made in 1907.
Sir Charles Seely provided the benefit for 999 years for villagers and future residents when he gifted land at a peppercorn rent to Shanklin District Urban Council; many properties have the rights included on the deeds of their homes.
Southern Water’s position is that the right to free or cheap water has long since ‘expired’, but nonetheless provide free water to some recently built properties, whilst denying it to others built at the same time.
Four years fighting for resolution
A number of residents who have been trying to sort the issues out for almost four years have formed the Chillerton Water Action Group (CWAG) working together to try to bring about a resolution.
George Nightingale and Stephen Rowntree, represented CWAG at the meeting, which was also attended by Isle of Wight Councillor Peter Bingham and Cllr. John Kingston, Chairman of the Parish Council.
Southern Water apologise for inconsistencies
Mr. Turner said, “What particularly concerned me was that Southern Water had stated that the legal agreement was no longer valid without properly considering the position. It is a financial giant of a company with a turnover of over £650m – they knew that residents could not afford to take them on in the courts.
“They were also acting unfairly in giving some residents free or cheap water, but refusing it to others in exactly the same position. To be fair Southern Water accepted today that they have acted inconsistently in the past and have apologised for that. It was a positive meeting which gave villagers the opportunity to put forward their arguments to Southern Water.
“They have agreed to consider the points raised carefully and bring forward a plan to resolve the issues within the next three months. All local residents affected will then be able to consider their proposals.”
Delighted the parties got together
Cllr Peter Bingham added, “I am satisfied that this is now being dealt with at a high level within Southern Water and that following this meeting they have a much better understanding of the issues.
“Nobody is pretending this will be easy, not least because the two sides have received conflicting legal advice but I am delighted that the parties have finally got together and all are determined to find a resolution.”