Allowed to do as it pleases

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Ged Taylor is right (Echo. January 21) in saying the Water Regulator allows water companies to charge unnecessarily high charges.

As a water meter customer of Northumbrian Water (NW) I discovered that while NW charge me £1.18 per cubic metre to deliver clean water and then charge £1.06 cu/m to remove it as sewerage, they refuse not to charge for 50 cu/m of water I pour onto my garden which returns via groundwater to the sea and not through NW sewers, which costs me £53 a year.

My complaints to NW, the Consumer Council for Water and the regulator OFWAT about the rip off have resulted in NW saying because they can’t work out how much returns to my sewers I have to pay the full sewerage costs.

Like other water companies, Northumbrian Water is a giant landowner, yet has any customer ever received with their annual demand any guidance for public access/activities on its reservoirs? A brilliant opportunity for free public relations (PR) wasted.

Northumbrian Water is a private company with a monopoly over its customers, as such it has a public duty to provide and encourage access to the countryside it now owns.

At the west end of Derwent reservoir was a small car park/picnic area and, unlike others, managed by NW, it had good riverside access and was managed by Durham Council. In 2015 the council handed back the lease to owner Northumbrian Water, who then fitted new security gates excluding long established public access.

It’s 20 years since the Disability Discrimination Act arrived to prevent any disadvantage they may have compared to non-disabled in particular public access.

A few metres from the Roman Road, B6318, is Whittle Dene Bird Hide, overlooking the reservoir, in the few metres from the access gate the land drops about 1.5m then rises via steps to the hide, which is level with the access gate. I asked NW several years ago for a level/raised access for disabled people and wheelchairs to access the hide. NW responded with caution ‘so that we can be sure that we are not compromising the reservoir structure’, but still no disabled access. It did provide disabled ‘inaccessible’ picnic tables and chairs, set in concrete foundations.

G White