Monday, June 23, 2008

'Church not a charity', say water company, 'now give us the money.'

Another from the inbox....

As you may already know, Northumbrian Water is starting to treat churches as businesses rather than charities and charging churches for the amount of area (i.e. roofs and carparks) that will collect rainwater and discharge it into the sewer network. This could raise most churches’ water bills by hundreds if not thousands of pounds - especially any with extensive roofs and lots of gutters.

The Bishops of Newcastle, Durham, and Hexham and Newcastle have already written to Northumbrian Water and OFWAT and to local MPs about this issue but unfortunately with no effect-Northumbrian Water say that they are acting within the rules and making a change in this area would disadvantage their other customers.

There is now an online petition asking the Prime Minister to instruct water companies to change their policy. Please register and pass this email on to anyone else you think will sign it. The petition needs at least 15,000 signatures to be noticed and at present stands at about 4,300 (it's now over 17,000) so responses are needed as soon as possible and not later than July 7th. You can register your name on the petition by clicking on the link below:

The deadline on the downing st. website is in December, so I'm not quite sure what the 7th July thing is about, but it's worth signing anyway. I'm not sure what other water companies are doing, but if one of them starts treating churches as a business and makes money out of it, the rest will follow.

Update: being a trendy vicar, I'm only 3 1/2 months behind on the news - here are a couple of links on this story from the Church Times and the BBC. However, the Telegraph only caught up with this a couple of weeks ago, so I'm in good company (if you call the Telegraph good company!). They put the likely cost at £15m, and it sounds like there are 4 water companies involved, not just Northumbria Water.

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