Reports and Campaigns
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Reports and campaigns:
Floods: Profits rise, workers pay
Flood waters have subsided in most areas and electricity has been restored. Running water has been returned to most homes in the county, but we can't drink it, wash-up in it nor clean our teeth with it yet. Severn Trent Water (STW) hopes to have it sanitised by the middle of next week (8 August). So is the nightmare over?
John Ewers, Gloucestershire Socialist Party
Living without running water and electricity has been a nightmare. People struggled to collect water from distribution points, shops and the neighbourhood bowsers (water tanks), especially as many of them had run out of water mid-week and STW had not refilled the tanks.
However people coped brilliantly through thousands of kind acts that ensured folk got what they needed and the ill and the elderly were looked after.
A local farmer rigged up a tractor and trailer 'train' to transport the villagers of Highnam to Gloucester to purchase essential supplies. An essential role was also played by the emergency teams - paid and unpaid.
Now the questions are being raised. What needs to be done and, importantly, who is going to pay for it? Norwich Union announced that their flood insurance premiums will rise by 10%! STW provoked hostility when they commented that they didn't expect to lose profits because of the crisis, while calling on others to supply water to the county.
Environment Agency executives are getting massive pay rises for performance. Baroness Young, the chief executive, has seen her pay go up £24,000 to £187,000 pa.
A correspondent to the local paper (1.8.07) wrote that the council have done nothing to protect our homes from flooding for twenty years! All major improvement plans have remained just that - plans.
Another concern is a possible rise in water rates. I visited Martin Ison (see the socialist 497). Still living upstairs, due to flooding of his downstairs, he commented: "A water rate rise just isn't on. Let STW take the repair and improvement costs to the defences out of their profits. I'm disgusted. All five of our domestic appliances are damaged beyond repair. STW ought to be nationalised."
If water rates go up Martin wants to organise a demonstration outside one of the STW offices. I promised our support.