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Council Sewage charge payment cap removal

8 replies 394 views
NeilsPNeilsP Forumite
4 posts
Dear Money Saving Expert

I’m hoping very much that you can give me some advice please on the current situation myself and other residents find ourselves in.

We are a small hamlet with 38 houses connected to a private sewage treatment plant operated by our local council. Since we have lived here since 1996 the cost for running the service has been split equally annually between the 38 houses and capped to £242 per property. Last year we were informed by the council that they had done a review and the cap was being removed and a staged increase in charges implemented with surplus funds to go towards future maintenance costs of the plant. This we were all up in arms over at the steep phasing in of increased charges and the cap removal and many questions were asked. Strangely they came back to us again after doing another review! Which resulted in reducing the charges slightly. I’m not convinced they did a proper review in the first place to be honest.

One of the main and important questions was for them to provide documentation as to why the cap was originally put in place, the reply was:

‘There is no documentation in regard to the previous capped fee of £242. This was a decision made by a previous finance portfolio holder and as such did not require committee approval’.

This I find very hard to believe. Firstly I’m not sure it is legal and secondly how they know this as there is no documentation and yet a decision that happened over 20 years ago or so can be remembered.

My questions are:

Is the Council required to produce written evidence of the decision made by a previous finance portfolio holder, which I assume must have been recorded in a meeting?

If there is no documentation of why the cap was originally put in place, can they remove it? Surely if no one knows why the cap was put in place then it can’t be removed? For all we know the cap was put in place in perpetuity.

Thank you in advance

Replies

  • icic Forumite
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    What is the increase that will be applied?
  • DavesnaveDavesnave Forumite
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    Were you expecting ever-reducing sewerage treatment bills due to the effect of inflation over time, or do you pay other charges over and above this one for drainage?
    Patron to The Warning
    "No country has ever improved the health of its citizens by making them poorer." John Lee - Professor of Pathology. UK.
  • 2019/20 - £245.
    2020/21 - £248.
    2021/22 - £342.
    2022/23 - £355.
    2023/24 - £368.

    That's as many years that we have been given.
    It's the actual cap removal that most concerns me.

    Thanks
  • We know charges increase over time. The point i'm trying to get to the bottom of, is that our charges have always been capped to £242. If no documentation is held by the council regarding the cap, can they remove it?

    Regarding other drainage costs, we do not pay any.

    Thanks
  • mrschaucermrschaucer Forumite
    839 posts
    Tenth Anniversary 500 Posts Name Dropper
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    Does anybody have any written info regarding these charges from when they bought their houses?
  • No not as far as we know. We have done as much research as we can with the residents and have found no written evidence. The furthest back we have bills for is 10 year's or so. The cap was probably put in place over 20 year's ago.
  • ciderboy2009ciderboy2009 Forumite
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    So you don't have any information on why the cap was applied or the conditions relating to it?

    Without that you've got no way of proving that it should stil apply.
  • Nick_CNick_C Forumite
    6.8K posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Home Insurance Hacker!
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    You've been lucky getting a subsidised service until now. Most of us pay a charge that covers the cost of treating our sewage, plus a profit margin for the private company providing the service.

    We are a 2 person household. Our sewage costs are £162 a year.

    Unfortunately, infrastructure that only serves 38 houses will be expensive as you don't have economies of scale. But I don't see why other council taxpayers should be subsidising you.
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