Fears over water bills rise to clean beach

Barbara Thomas, vice-chairman of Blackpool Senior Voice Forum, says pensioners will struggle with rising costs.
Barbara Thomas, vice-chairman of Blackpool Senior Voice Forum, says pensioners will struggle with rising costs.
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WATER giant bosses have promised to use cash generated from increasing utility bills to improve Fylde coast bathing waters.

But a Blackpool pensioners’ organisation claims the cost of rising water bills will lead to older people “suffering in silence”.

The water provider watchdog Ofwat has released its forecast figures for 2013/14, with United Utilities bills set to increase its charges by 3.4 per cent next year.

Barbara Thomas, vice chairman of Blackpool Senior Voice forum, believes this means bad news for the elderly.

Mrs Thomas, 73, of Carshalton Road, North Shore, said: “These are people struggling on basic pensions.

“Every time the rates go up the pensions aren’t going up to meet this, and it’s going to be a big problem to elderly homeowners.

“Older people are far too proud to share their problems and there’ll be a lot of people suffering in silence.”

The new rates mean the average annual water and sewerage bill in Blackpool households will increase by £13 to £406.

Ann Allen, secretary of the Mereside Residents Association, said: “Quite frankly I think they’re taking enough money but my advice is for anybody living on their own to have a water meter installed.”

United Utilities says its rises are in line with inflation and some of the money raised will be spent on Preston’s £114m sewer tunnel, which aims to clean up the River Ribble.

Gary Dixon, United Utilities’ customer services director, said: “We’re investing in cleaning up the River Ribble which will improve the quality of bathing water in Blackpool.

“The small increase in prices this year is due largely to the rise in inflation. Even so, customers in the North West will still be paying around £1 per day, about the same as a loaf of bread, for all their water and sewerage services.

“We’ll be putting that money to good use, by ensuring the region’s water network, treatment works and sewer systems get the investment needed to deliver the service our customers expect.”

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