October 7, 2015
Burnham-On-Sea water bills to fall 16% after competition inquiry ruling

A water company which serves thousands of customers across the Burnham-On-Sea area has been told it must cut average water bills by 16% by 2020.

The company originally planned to reduce its bills by just 6%, but last year regulator Ofwat said customers should see a cut of 19%, arguing that it had seen no justification for the higher charges and Bristol Water needed to run itself more efficiently.

Bristol Water appealed over Ofwat's decision to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which has this week ruled that average bills must reduce by 16% by 2020.

This means the average customer will be charged £160 a year compared with £187 had Bristol's case been accepted.

Bristol Water said the decision meant it was now unable to build some of its proposed projects, which includes the Cheddar 2 reservoir.

CMA inquiry group chairwoman Anne Lambert said: "We have considered the needs of Bristol Water's customers and the levels of investment required to maintain quality and reliability of supply."

"As part of this process, we have rejected several projects proposed by Bristol Water because we did not consider they were fully justified and in the interests of customers. We have also placed funding for a large water treatment project on hold."

"It is subject to approval by Ofwat if further investigation by Bristol Water justifies the investment. Overall, we considered that a small increase from the Ofwat determination was justified."

Bristol Water Chief Executive Luis Garcia said: "It has been worthwhile going to the CMA as this is an improved outcome that we are confident will better serve Bristol Water's customers by allowing us to maintain our network and invest in essential improvements."

Ofwat Chief Executive Cathryn Ross added: "While the CMA has slightly reduced the level of bill reductions we set, this is still an excellent result for Bristol Water's customers. It is critical that Bristol Water continues to deliver a safe and secure water service to its customers."

"We hope that Bristol Water will now review its approach to our five-yearly price reviews and take forward these lessons at future reviews."

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