Water Charges

This set of articles relates to non-domestic tenants in leased premises where the water and or sewerage supply is connected to the landlord's facilities, namely the common or shared areas. Noted that the landlord's staff and contractors et al also have access to these facilities.

The problem is that Scottish Water consider that the tenants of leased premises ought to be paying water, sewerage, and drainage charges, whereas the law appears to state otherwise.

The conduct of their Revenue Protection Service is questionable, and private limited company CMA Scotland's "Market Code" is also apparently at variance with the law.

The net result is an unstable and hostile environment for small business's, who employ a very large proportion of the working population, in which to survive, let alone start up and prosper.

This information is published as a matter of Public Interest. Whether it is specifically protected under the Public Interest Disclosure Act is unknown. [Link to http://www.11kbw.com/uploads/files/PHPaper.pdf failed as at 17th March 2018, originally downloaded on 18th May 2016. Available here.]

The opinions expressed are the reasonable comments of the authors who have relevant education, training and experience.

The articles are summarised below in reverse date order - that is newest first. The research was conducted aprroximately in this order.

These emails etc relate to a Business Center in Scotland, where without any request, Scottish Water Business Stream who are in law the default collector of revenue for Scottish Water assigned some [how many is unknown] tenants to Clear Business | Water.

The following communications illustrate the bullying attitude demonstrated by the Debt Collection department in England. Also included is an exchange with a so called ethical investor.

Report from Trust Pilot

https://uk.trustpilot.com/reviews/5aa69ea8d5a570032020c086, content copied 14th March 2018

The complaint

I lease a shed with a shared roof and now Clear Business says I am due them nearly £750 for rain water I dont think so and when you call them they are not intrested as this is the Landlord's bill not mine just a shower of ---- and always keep on putting in bills.

These emails date back a while. They illustrate the fact that Scottish Water want to be seen to be listening, but in fact this just a "PR" extercise, and in real life they could not care a damn about the laws of Scotland, and will proceed with the consent and or assistance of the Water Commissioner for Scotland, the Scottish Administration, and indeed the responsible Minister.

Meeting of the Parliament on Wednesday 19 April 2017 - Water Charges (Business Centres)

John Mason (Glasgow Shettleston) (SNP):

To ask the Scottish Government what the impact is of water charges on smaller organisations that operate in business centres in which they do not have their own water supply but share kitchens and toilets. (S5O-00860).

This is just for the record.

It demonstrates the problem of getting a simple answer to a simple question. It is what most Whistleblowers complain of - that their complaint, or whatever, is not treated with the respect with which it is raised, and "evasion" appears to be the game which is played by the civil [is that currently the right word] servant when dealing with the general public.

This is just for the record.

It demonstrates that Scottish Water Business Stream appear to leave their debt collectors in ignorance of the facts. It further demonstrates that certain [in fact most] debt collectors do NOT validate that a debt is due before wasting their time, that of the person or organisation being pursued, and finally of the courts.

Reference should be made to the Sheriff Principal Mhairi M Stephen QC's Note No 9 in the Chataroo case which reads "As a preface to his submissions the Dean of Faculty pointed out that this was but one of a not insignificant number of debt recovery cases raised by the pursuers in this court."

Scottish Water Business Steam LOST.

We all know what a "devil spoon" is. It is an ordinary tea spoon with a much longer handle, so that you don't get your fingers [burned] covered in marmalade when trying to get the last dregs of marmalade out of the jar.

It is the same for Landlords who choose to "do a deal" with Scottish Water regarding their tenants.

Is this just a rant, or is there other published evidence ?

Here are two web sites which report adverse behaviour:

So once we have established that there is a problem, who is responsible. It is of course the employees in the Revenue Protection Department of Scottish Water as directed by their Board, and Scottish Water Business Stream who pursue the invoices which are erroneously raised.

This HTML page is a text copy of part of the pdf published by The Scottish Courts and can be downloded here: https://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/docs/default-source/cos-general-docs/pdf-docs-for-opinions/2017scgla47.pdf?sfvrsn=0

The Summary is presented below.

It is clear and concise and seems to be applicable to the vast majority of small business's who are tenants in business centres and the like.

This is simply a list of people from one of the following:

  • Scottish State Companies:
    • Scottish Water, and
    • Scottish Water Business Stream, and 
      • Subcontractors such as Debt Collectors et al.
      • Other Revenue Collectors,
  • The Scottish Government [Administration],
  • The Scottish Parliament [MSP's],
  • Water Industry Commission for Scotland

some of whom have been asked the following simple question, and have failed to give a simple straight forward and honest reply.

This article relates to the unreasonable behaviour of Scottish Water [SW], its subsidiary Scottish Water Business Stream [SWBS], and debt collection agencies and the like appointed by SWBS.

Whether the charges raised are actually raised in accordance with the provisions of the Water Services etc. (Scotland) Act 2005 is covered in the article "Water Charges - The Law Explained" is immaterial - in the case of charges for properties which are NOT eligible properties in terms iof Section 27, there are a number of points to be made - especially when Scotland is in recession or hovering on the brink of it - and these include:

The following is a record of of an ongoing email exchange between the following parties:

  • The occupier of a premises without either a Water or a Sewerage Connection running a small business.
  • The Constituency Assistant to the MSP for the area, Nicola Surgeon.
  • Scottish Water Business Stream

Comments are in red. Emails are in REVERSE date order, i.e. the newest are first.

Noted that responses just seem to stop when Scottish Water Business Stream do not gain acceptance of their [erroneous] point of view.

Overview

This paper relates to the continuing research into the conduct of various parts of the Water Industry in Scotland relating to charges for Non-Domestic Properties which cannot be classified as Eligible Properties in terms of Section 27 of the 2005 Water Act.

It was submitted to the Commission on Parliamentary Reform on 13th March 2017, who verbally acknowledged receipt, and has now been published on the Committee's web site.

It is the culmination of the assessment on what is wrong with the Water Industry viz: it is NOT engendering an environment where small business's can prosper; indeed it can probably be said to be wholly detrimental. 

Introduction

The SPSO has made at least one decision in favour of the Water Industry demonstrating a lack of knowledge of the Law. It is Case: 201300100, Business Stream which is published at: http://www.spso.org.uk/sites/spso/files/decision_summaries/201300100.pdf and has been copied. Inserted comments are shown in red. The actual HTML code was copied on 24th February 2017.

In our view: firstly the decision is wrong because it fails to adhere to the law, namely Section 27 of the 2005 Water Act, and secondly, the SPSO erred in making a decision which required interpretation of the Law which is beyond his remit.

Overview

During the research which included communicating with the Scottish Government Water Industry Team, we received two letters:

  • One from Jon Rathjen, Team Leader Water Industry Team, Ref: 2016/0023048, Dated: 21 July 2016
  • The other from Bob Irvine, Deputy Director Water Industry Division, Ref: 2016/0028722, Dated: 29 September 2016

Both are reviewed below, and not only conflict with each other, but also with the remits of the SPSO and the Water Industry Commission for Scotland.

Introduction

The Information Commissioner's document Decision014-2017 which is published at: http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/ApplicationsandDecisions/Decisions/2017/201601954.aspx, and has been copied, Inserted comments are shown in red. The actual HTML code was copied on 8th February 2017.

Our conclusion is simple. The Commissioner relied upon The Ministers' assertion that the information requested was publicly available when in fact it was NOT.

What can you do ?

If you have been caught in this unfortunate situation - and judging by the comments and complaints on the internet - a lot of people have, just what can you do ?

There are a number of avenues, but ALL of them are lengthy and time consuming as well as being emotionally exhausting. Please read the WARNING NOTE at the end of this article.

The law is a minefield.

The only way that a point of law will be ever be clarified is if it is taken to court. But unless there is agreement it will inevitably have to be taken to a higher court. Scottish Water Business Stream have enormously deep pockets, which enable them to keep matters going to the exhaustion of the smaller party.

An Agenda for a meeting with [or within] the Water Industry

Introductory Notes

There are few prerequisites before you can have a meeting:

  1. You need an agenda with specific simple items clearly expressed.
  2. You need people with whom you can have a meaningful discussion:

Overview

There are two parts to an opinion:

  • The Briefing: that is asking the question, which must include enough of the background information to enable a meaningful answer. Inadequate information or an overdose of information will result in an answer which cannot be relied upon.
  • The Opinion: that is a precise answer to the question or questions posed in the Brief. Remember that this is the interpretation of the law in the professional view of the barrister who has been briefed, not as a Sheriff or Judge may hand down.

The Problem

The problem is that the determination of whether a property is an "eligible premises" under the 2005 water act [and thus liable for water charges] - see the article on "The Law" - is not carried out in a fair and reasonable manner.

The Court Process

A writ is issued for the sums of money that the pursuer wants to be paid. UNLESS you settle up immediately this will include another large sum for the pursuers costs. Tho these are subject to certain rules. 

Nota Benissime: Issuing a writ is NOT about seeking justice. It is about attempting to force the other party to pay whether the money is due or not.

When reading this, bear in mind that this relates to a leased premises that does not have a water supply, and is thus NOT eligible [viz liable] for Water and Sewerage charges, but probably pays water charges of some sort through the Landlord's service charges.

Introduction

There are two bodies, both legally constituted, who have published documents which do not cite the Law which they purport to define.

Scottish Water Business Stream are suing so many of their clients that they have developed a, not altogether correct, standardised writ.

If a writ is defended, and that is easy, the pursuer can then change it and resubmit it with another argument, ad nauseam.

Physical Configuration

The best place to start is to define the physical configuration of the pipes for leased premises that do not have a direct water or sewerage connection provided by Scottish Water. Below is a diagram which illustrates the Water and Sewerage Connections. There are a number of cases to consider.

Business Water Charges for Small Business's in rented or leased accommodation

Ok - what's this page about ? Its about SMALL business's who do not have a water supply, and thus no toilets of their own.

So what does this mean in practice ? It means they are asked to pay about £2 per visit to go to someone else's toilet. Imagine if O'Leary of Ryan Air had actually charged a Euro to use the toilet on a plane - and they are actually HIS toilets.