INCREASES in council house sewerage charges have been branded as “scandalous” by a councillor.
Under the question at anytime protocol, leader of the Liberal Democrat and Green group, Cllr James Gibson-Watt, asks why sewerage charge notices are going up by 70 per cent from April?
He has been contacted by residents who feel the extra charge is unfair.
The price hike was agreed at a Powys County Council cabinet meeting on February 16, with sewerage charges rising from £5.46 a week to £9.46.
The charge is uniform across Powys.
Cllr Gibson- Watt, (Glasbury) said: “This is scandalous.
“Blanket charges are being applied, including to residents whose sewage treatment plants are not subject to repair or upgrading.
“Why should a resident in one village whose sewage treatment plant is not being upgraded contribute to the costs of an upgrade in a different location?
“In a private sector housing estate served by its own treatment plant, only the residents of that estate would be charged for any maintenance or capital works to the plant.”
Portfolio holder for Economic Development, Housing and Planning, Cllr Iain McIntosh, (Yscir – Conservative) said: “Sewerage charges reflect actual expenditure incurred maintaining and managing water treatment plants.
“The council is only able to recover costs incurred.”
Cllr McIntosh explained that the charges are actually to pay for spending on repairs and general maintenance which happened two years earlier.
In 2018-19 the council spent just under £60,500 on the sewage works, this increased in 2019-20 to just over £103,500 which reflects the charge rise.
Cllr McIntosh said: “This is because a high level of repairs were required to make sure that the water treatment plants continued to comply with regulations governing the operation of the installations.
“The extent of future charges will be informed by the need for repairs and maintenance of the plants.
“That means that annual charges could increase or decrease, depending on the expenditure incurred by the Council.”
At the moment PCC is reviewing all of it’s water treatment plants and may need to invest in new treatment plants to “reduce the need for ongoing repairs.”
Money has been set aside for this investment in the Housing Revenue Account (HRA).