Socialist Party

13 Lombard Street
Belfast BT1 1RB

Email: socialist@belfastsp.freeserve.co.uk

John Spellar
Minister of State
Department of Regional Development
C/o Water Reform Unit
Room G.18
Clarence Court
10-18 Adelaide Street
Belfast BT2 9GB

24.11.03

Dear Minister,

We are writing on behalf of the Socialist Party to express our total opposition to your announcement on the subject of “public consultation on the reform of water and sewerage services”.

It is clear that the Water Reform Unit and your Ministry have completely ignored the results of the consultation exercise, which showed massive opposition to the introduction of water charges and to the privatisation of the water service.

Your announcement shows that the Government is prepared to ignore the wishes of the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland and proceed with the introduction of charges. Despite misleading statements made in press releases issued by your Department, it is clear from your announcement that your ultimate aim is to privatise the water and sewerage service.

The Socialist Party is determined that your proposals will be opposed. We are part of the “Coalition Against Water Charges”, which has been set up by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. Within this Coalition we are advocating a strategy of mass non-payment should the charges be introduced. The “Water Charges – ‘We Won’t Pay’ Campaign” is already taking this message into the communities.

I am asking you to withdraw your proposals and accede to the views expressed by the overwhelming majority of those who attended the consultation meetings and who sent in written responses during the consultation period.

These were that we should continue to pay for our water through our regional rate and that there should be no additional or separate charge, that the Government should make up for years of under funding and provide investment for the necessary upgrading of the water and sewerage service, and that the service should remain public with the jobs and conditions of the workforce secured.

Yours sincerely,

Jim Barbour
Socialist Party Candidate - South Belfast

Tommy Black
Socialist Party Candidate - East Belfast

Joe Higgins
Socialist Party TD - Dublin West

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