Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Scottish Water




Some of my readers who live outside Scotland may not be aware Scottish Water is publicly owned. Over the years the Tories have repeatedly suggested it ought to be privatised although various FMs have rejected the idea. Alex Salmond has been strong in his defence of keeping our water in public ownership.

Imagine my surprise when I read Alex Salmond and John Swinney have held secret meetings about the possible sale of Scottish Water with the Australian company which owns Thames Water; the first being 2008 and the second July 2009.

A FOI inquiry disclosed that Mr Salmond and Mr Swinney held at least two meetings with the Australian banking group Macquarie dating back as far as 2008.

The Sunday Herald has reported that the Scottish Futures Trust is looking at alternative models for future ownership of Scottish Water and is considering whether it should be sold off. Although the SNP has insisted that privatisation is not an option, it is now clear that two of the country's most senior ministers were exploring a change of ownership parallel to the review.

A Scottish government spokesman said: "Mr Swinney met representatives of Macquarie bank last June, at their request, to discuss the financing of Scottish Water. There were no actions arising from the meeting."

Young Tris has brought to my attention the Water Industry Commission for Scotland (WICS). This quango, set up in 2005 to encourage Scottish Water to reduce prices for customers, comprises six commissioners and employs around 23 staff on a budget primarily funded by Scottish Water. That doesn't make sense to me that a publicly owned business sets up a quango in order to tell it to reduce prices - am I missing something here?

This quango spent over £100,000 on staff jollies. Isn't life good as a public sector employee? Along with the Health Scotland this is a quango which should be dissolved. (no pun intended).





19 comments:

The Last Of The Few said...

SR,

Did the FOI state where the meeting was held.

Was it a couple of all ex first clss airfares and a swanky hotel in Sydney ?????

Andrew said...

SR, You're getting as bad as the Herald etc!
I read that story and filed it away in my head under the "What can we do now to criticise the SNP" heading.
Because of the inability to BORROW, the SNP Govt is having to look at all kind of alternative funding mechanisms. Some of the big players are actually coming up with ideas of their own to finance projects (not the dreaded PFI).
No reason why Swinney and Salmond shouldn't meet companies with money to see what they've got to offer.

subrosa said...

The article didn't say LotF.

Lee Enfield Mk1 said...

In 1991, my water rates in Ipswich were 0.50p/week. My water rates twenty years later are £9.

Please encourage the Scottish Parliament members to explain what will happen to the average Scot's water bill if some gang of thieving internationalist globalizers get hold of their assets, so that the SNP or Labour can get a few quid to invest in counseling services for transsexual Asian pig farmers or some similar nonsense....

subrosa said...

Andrew, I don't get paid for this blog you know. That's my first comparison with the Herald and any other newspaper. The others would take all day to type.

Why shouldn't I criticise the SNP or any political party?

I'm fully aware of the restrictions upon our devolution settlement. What did bother me about this was when the tories frequently bring up the case of selling SW Alex Salmond says he's no intention of doing that.

Pity he couldn't carry through his 'transparent and open' government strategy and say 'we've investigated this and decided we won't sell SW'. Now that's what I call transparent and open, not a half answer.

No reason at all why any minister shouldn't meet companies to see what they have to offer, but the SNP have to realise, if they want to be underhand then they'll get found out.

Far better to be honest with the people in the first place. We've had enough devious politicians in my lifetime without the SNP taking up tricks like theirs.

The people admire politicians who are open. Think back to the recent labour attack on Nicola. That backfired for labour because Nicola was open when she made her statement. She cut her critics dead.

In this day and age of FIOs etc it won't pay to think that actions will not become public. They need to be ahead of the game and not behind it.

subrosa said...

Lee I'm waiting for my charges for this year. The notice should drop through my letter box any day now.

RantinRab said...

It's all jobs for the boys. Like all quangos.

And watch out Rosa, them nasty cybertwats will be gunning for you for having the audacity to criticise their beloved SNP. They're nearly as bad as the socialists...

subrosa said...

Aye Rab, no party supporters like to hear the word on the street. That's why every one of them is more or less the same.

I was hoping the SNP would be a breath of fresh air where transparency was concerned, but no. They talked enough about being different at the beginning and the people liked the idea. Now people say they're just the same as the others.

More folk around here will vote tory at the GE I'm sure but the SNP seat is safe. I'm not so sure about Perth though.

scunnert said...

I've been keeping an eye on the SNP's attitude to SW for some time and don't trust them on this issue. They dissimulate and that's what troubles me. They sold off the commercial water and sewage part of the business and pretended that this was as naught when they surely know that under GATS that this would open up the rest of the business to private interests.

Given Salmond's business background, his support for failing, thieving banksters, and his oxymoronic "independence within Europe", I don't think SW will survive his leadership.

CrazyDaisy said...

SR

I'm with you on this, we need to keep our water ours. It is already an extremely scarce commodity, selling it on will do us no favours in the long term, short term gains no thanks.

I too can criticise my party, clarity and transparency is a must, no ifs or buts,

CD

Allan said...

Andrew.

Sorry, but there are many people for whom the privatisation of Scottish water would be a disaster. We have too many people who would not be able to pay the doubtless extortionate fees which would be imposed by coroprate beancounters.

The SNP are playing with fire with this issue, if they thought "Anti-Glasgow" lost them votes, they WILL lose the 2011 election if this happens.

Andrew said...

SR Just as you don't like being compared with The Herald I don't like beng called a cybernat in these posts, ie one who slavishly supports the SNP line on everything (I'm not even a member of the SNP).
The Herald story was several days ago but you repeat it as if it was a hot topic and of proven facts. The meetings were in 2008 FGS! Has Scottish Water been privatised? No!

This "story" is in the same category as Auctiongate, London expenses gate, STV gate., and you know what happened to them.

I'm sorry to disagree with you on this because I enjoy your blog normally.

RantinRab said...

Andrew, I said cybertwat, not cybernat.

subrosa said...

Scunnert, I don't know the ins and outs of the commercial and sewerage deal but I do know a few people who weren't happy with it.

The tories are always pushing for privatisation of SW. Short term thinking. But I believe SW will survive as private domestically until the next SP election.

subrosa said...

When things are bad CD you can't sell off the family silver. The worst mistake of all.

Let's reduce some of these quangos and see if some of those made redundant can start using their brains and become self-employed entrepreneurs. It's need that makes people come up with ideas.

subrosa said...

Allan, I very much doubt if that will happen with an SNP government, not in the short term anyway.

subrosa said...

Pardon Andrew? When did I ever call you or anyone a cybernat? I hate that word as most of my readers know.

I didn't 'present it as a hot topic', I wrote it to link with Tris's post about WICS. It was his post which reminded me of this.

My post is about transparency and open government but you seemed to have missed that. Oh, it's also about a quango which you seem to have missed to.

I didn't say I didn't like being compared with the Herald Andrew, I said I couldn't be compared for so many reasons.

You implied I post often in a 'bash the SNP' mode and I disagree.

And Andrew, if you read my post accurately, you will note that John Swinney had a meeting with Macquarie nine months ago. By my calculation that was in 2009 not 2008.

I reiterate, transparency and openness would be a refreshing change in politics.

Andrew said...

SR

Belatedly, I state that I did not mean to imply that YOU post negatively about the SNP and you have wrongly inferred that I did. My scorn at the recent spate of "gates" is reserved for the unholy alliance of Scottish media and Unionist politicians.
Neither did I say that YOU called me a cybernat, but Rantin Rab's thinly disguised cybertwat is of that ilk.

subrosa said...

OK Andrew, I apologise if my interpretation was wrong. Perhaps along with the Herald 'joke' it appeared that way to me.

There are quite a few sick to death of the gates business (although I do support climategate).

Now now Andrew, count yourself lucky Rab called you that. He's not usually so complimentary I assure you, but he's a lovely person really.

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