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Residents hail win against water firm

Yorkshire Water stumps up burst pipe costs

Dozens of people celebrated victory yesterday after winning major concessions from a tax-dodging, multimillion-pound water company .

For years the 111 houses on the Nest estate at Mytholmroyd in the Calder Valley in West Yorkshire have been dogged by burst water mains.

Water supplier Yorkshire Water washed its hands of the problem, saying the pipes supplying the estate were not its responsibility because they were "privately owned."

The estate of council houses was built in the 1950s and the water supply was installed by the local authority.

Since then a new local authority - Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council - has taken over, the publicly owned water supply industry has been privatised, 70 residents bought their council houses under the Tories' right-to-buy project and the rest have been taken over by a housing association.

Faced with the prospect of a continually bursting main involving asbestos pipes, residents on the estate formed a campaign group to challenge Yorkshire Water.

The company was bombarded with complaints and eventually agreed to meet residents individually.

The residents had other ideas and 70 of them turned up en masse at a public meeting with Yorkshire Water officials in a local church hall on Thursday night.

Jade Smith, a former social worker who has mobility problems and is registered disabled, said: "The outcome was extremely positive. Yorkshire Water has agreed to maintain the pipe at their expense until the end of the financial year, when the decision will be reviewed. They also agreed to pay for telemetry (using sensors to locate and predict bursts) and pay costs to establish the legal basis of the pipes."

Questions still remain over who pays for connecting up to a new main which is to be installed - Yorkshire Water wants to charge owner-occupiers £2,000 apiece for the operation.

"But we told them that if the pipes are privately owned, we'd charge them for running their water through our pipes," said Jade Smith, main organiser of the campaign.

"Yorkshire Water acted like rabbits in a headlight because I don't think they are used to such a force."

In 2013 Yorkshire Water made £331 million profit on £936m turnover, but paid no tax.


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