Friday, 12 December 2014

Water bills to fall as investment continues in Yorkshire

Yorkshire Water’s five million customers will benefit from lower bills and better services over the next five years, the industry’s regulator, Ofwat, confirmed today (Friday, December 12th)
Average bills in Yorkshire will fall by around 3% over the period 2015 to 2020, ensuring that they will remain amongst the lowest in the country. This will reduce the average bill from £373 per year to £361*.
This means that in 2019/20 our customers will still be paying £15 less a year for their water and sewerage services than the national average water bill.
The good news was unveiled as final regulatory approval was given to Yorkshire Water’s latest five-year business plan, which will see the company invest more than £3.8 billion in the region’s water and sewerage services.
Yorkshire Water Chief Executive Richard Flint said the money would drive significant improvements in customer service, as well as delivering major environmental benefits across the region.
“This is great news for our customers who already benefit from having some of the lowest bills in the UK,” he said.
“When pulling together our plan, more than 30,000 customers gave us their views on what they thought we should be investing in. Our consultation programme was the biggest of all the water and sewerage companies, so we’re confident that it represents real value for money for our customers.
“As a company that prides itself on taking care of the water environment, we’re looking forward to building on the excellent work we’ve already undertaken to help improve the region’s reservoir catchments, countryside, rivers and streams,” said Mr Flint.
Over a third of the company’s investment plans are aimed at protecting and enhancing the region’s water environment, with £180 million alone set aside to improve the quality of Yorkshire’s inland waterways.
Other investments include:
  • £1.3 billion will be used to maintain the company existing and extensive network of treatment works, pumping stations, sewers and pipes
  • £220 million will be used to meet the challenges posed by issues like population growth
  • £50 million will be used to further improve drinking water quality
  • £10 million will be used to assist fish migration through Yorkshire’s river network, with the creation of numerous new fish passes
Customers will receive official notification of their new charges early in 2015, with further communications and bills being distributed between February and May.

“We’re looking forward to working closely with local communities to deliver our plan in the most effective and efficient way possible. We’re proud of the fact that we’re currently the most financially efficient water and sewerage company in the UK and we’re committed to ensuring that we continue to deliver value for money and invest in the things our customers say are important to them,” said Mr Flint.
He added that helping customers who were genuinely  struggling to pay their bills would remain a high priority for the company which would shortly be piloting a new ‘social tariff’ to help those in most need of financial assistance.
Yorkshire Water’s investment over the next five years will include:
  • £345m investment in Environmental Improvements (improving beyond current service)
  • £50m investment in improving Drinking Water Quality
  • £1.3bn investment in maintaining existing assets
  • £180m to improve the quality of Yorkshire’s inland rivers, helping them to achieve 'Good Ecological Status' under the Water Framework Directive
  • £12m invested to help collectively understand the impact catchment management has on the quality of the water we need to treat
  • Further investment in assisting fish migrate through Yorkshires river systems, this will see £10m invested in fish passes
  • To facilitate enhanced data and public transparency, we will be investing £6m installing monitoring equipment on our sewer network.

* The bill numbers presented here do not include the effect of inflation because we do not yet know what inflation will be in each of the next five years.


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Businesses join forces to fight the festive fat

Yorkshire Water is teaming up with supermarkets Sainsbury’s and Waitrose to encourage customers not to cause pains in the drains this Christmas.

Customers pre-ordering a turkey from the two major retailers for their Christmas roast will receive free Yorkshire Water gadgets to help collect the fat, oil and grease (FOG) the annual festive feast generates.

Pouring FOGs down the sink can result in the liquids hardening as they cool and create blockages. Last year 2,635 sewer blockages around the Yorkshire region alone were caused by these liquids, often leading to flooding inside homes and businesses.

Not only are these blockages horrible for customers, they are also expensive to clear from the Yorkshire Water network; money that could be saved on customers’ bills.

Yorkshire Water is giving away 7,700 EkoFunnels at 30 Sainsbury’s stores across the region and 1,400 Fat Traps at seven Waitrose stores as part of the nationwide campaign. The traps and funnels can be used to collect waste FOGs for recycling or disposal via the bin.

Richard Flint, Yorkshire Water CEO, said: “We’re asking people to put our sewers on a low fat diet and think before they dispose of fat, oil and grease down the sink or through the dishwasher.

“Whilst it only takes a couple of extra seconds to get rid of products like fat by putting it in the bin, it will mean that the millions of pounds we currently spend removing these products from the sewers of Yorkshire can be invested elsewhere - improving our network and the service we offer.”

Paul Crewe, Head of Sustainability for Sainsbury’s, said: “We’re proud to be distributing over 7,700 EkoFunnels at our stores in Yorkshire this year. As well as keeping Britain’s waste water network flowing, the cooking oil and fat captured from your roast this Christmas could be turned into bio-fuel to power vehicles.”

Quentin Clark, Waitrose’s Head of Sustainability and Ethical Sourcing, added: “Fat in the sewers is a big problem, particularly at this time of year. Here at Waitrose, we are committed to supporting local communities and helping to reduce this problem across the country.

“By encouraging our customers to use our free fat-traps, we can dramatically cut the percentage of damage caused to drains by fat, oil and grease.”

Business In The Community (BITC) trialled the initiative with customers in London last year before helping to spread it to other parts of the country, including Yorkshire, this Christmas.

Liz Needleman, Area Director for England East for BITC said: “We are delighted to be part of this initiative. It clearly shows how business collaboration can deliver practical results that are good for business and help us all to live more sustainably while create wider value for society. This is a great example of how businesses can work together to drive positive change towards a sustainable and prosperous future for themselves and the communities they serve.”

Free fat traps and EkoFunnels will be available, while stocks last.

Further information about disposing of fat, oil and grease safely is available on our website

Monday, 24 November 2014

Help at hand for South Yorkshire residents

Yorkshire Water is joining forces with South Yorkshire Police, Meg Munn MP and the Keep Me Posted campaign as it increases the support offered to vulnerable customers.
The company is the latest to join Meg Munn MP in supporting the Keep Me Posted campaign, signing up to a pledge on Friday (November 21st 2014) to give customers the right to choose how they are contacted by companies, whether that’s electronically or in the post.
And Yorkshire Water is also working with South Yorkshire Police to try and raise awareness of the distraction burglary tactics used by criminals posing as representatives of the “water board”.
The latest police figures show that pretending to be from Yorkshire Water is the top tactic used by bogus callers to gain access to resident’s homes, with almost a quarter of crimes instigated in this way.
Residents around the region are being warned about the ploy and urged to follow some simple steps to ensure they don’t fall victim to the same trick.
South Yorkshire Police’s advice to customers is:
  • Think before you open the door – don’t open it all the way before you’ve checked their identity
·         Fit a door chain or bar to wooden doors, special door chains are available for UPVC doors
·         Keep your front and back doors locked at all times, even when at home, to prevent ‘sneak in’ burglars
·         Identification does not guarantee the caller is genuine; ask to check it yourself and contact the company. Do not use the number printed on the card as it could be false, find one in your phone book or on the internet
·         Use a bank or building society to keep larger sums of money rather than hiding it in your home
Andy Foster, Project Officer from South Yorkshire Police said: “In the last 7 years distraction burglary offences have decreased by 70%. That’s fantastic news and shows the benefit of partnership working to raise awareness of these issues. However, the impact of this type of crime can be devastating and you should always be on your guard when someone calls at your door unexpectedly.
Our advice is simple - keep your doors locked and do not let strangers into your home unless you have verified their identity. If they are genuine they will not object and if you are not sure, don’t open the door.”
Wendy Berriman, Yorkshire Water Campaigns Assistant, said: “It’s really important that we offer support to our most vulnerable customers right across the region in whatever way we can.
“Campaigns like Keep Me Posted are one way of doing that, ensuring we are communicating with our customers in the way that they prefer. But it’s also important for us to help our customers stay safe by raising awareness of despicable crimes like these distraction burglaries.
“We’d like to advise any of our customers that might be concerned about falling victim to these ploys to register with our Password Scheme on 0800 138 78 78. It will allow you to set up a password which any genuine Yorkshire Water colleague will know when visiting you, so you can verify their identity.”
Meg Munn MP said: “My constituency of Sheffield Heeley has a large elderly population, who along with disabled people and those that lack access to the internet, often have the greatest need for paper statements and bills. I am delighted Yorkshire Water are supporting the Keep me Posted campaign so that my constituents will have the right to choose how to receive important information.”
And Judith Donovan CBE, who chairs the Keep Me Posted campaign, said, “We are delighted that Yorkshire Water has become the latest service provider to join the Keep Me Posted campaign.  In a drive for greater efficiency and cost cutting, some businesses have forgotten to take into account the communications needs of their vulnerable customers.
“We know from working with a diverse roster of 69 charities and concerned groups that many consumers are not ready to make this leap to digital communication. Even in instances where customers might be able to, they should still reserve the right to receive bills and statements in whatever fashion enables them to best manage their money. 
By adopting the Keep Me Posted pledge, Yorkshire Water has demonstrated its commitment to protecting the rights of their customers to choose how they are communicated with by the company. We hope that other providers across the UK will follow their example and pledge to protect consumers’ rights.”

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Grand Depart Festival kickstarts new Festival for Yorkshire

Ambitious plans for a biennial Yorkshire Festival of art and culture starting in 2016 have been announced today.

The ten year plan, which will see major headlining commissions in a programme which has public participation at its heart, has been announced on the day a report reveals that this summer's cultural festival accompanying the Yorkshire Grand Départ of the Tour de France, generated close to £10 million for the county’s economy.

An independent evaluation report out today on the first ever cultural festival to accompany a Grand Départ also shows that there were more than 800,000 attendances at the 2,225 live performances, exhibitions and workshops over the 100-day Yorkshire Festival programme, with 18,000 people actually taking part.

Yorkshire Festival 2014, conceived by Welcome to Yorkshire, and supported by the Arts Council England, Yorkshire Water and Local Authorities across the county involved 47 headline projects alongside 475 fringe events.

Henrietta Duckworth, Executive Producer of Yorkshire Festival, said: “Yorkshire Festival exceeded all our expectations.  &Co’s rigorous evaluation report shows the festival’s artistic and economic impact and the irrepressible Yorkshire spirit. The cultural industries produced original work in every art form of exceptional quality, ambition and wit.  Participation was the “DNA” of this festival, people got creative as makers and performers at an unprecedented level.  Inspired by the Tour, the majority of the festival events were free attracting both young and old and 48,000 brand-new arts attenders.  It’s been 100 Amazing Days and we’re inspired that our ambitious cultural sector wants this festival to live again.”

Highlights of the festival included the world’s first Ghost Peloton, a monumental outdoor experience which brought dancers and a peloton of illuminated cyclists together in a stunning performance, Tour de Cinema’s premiere of Velorama screened in extraordinary outdoor locations across the county and the unusual Grand Departs, in which 18 cyclists pulled a grand piano up Cragg Vale, brought music to the longest continuous climb in England. Significant new plays were created – Bike Story, written by Mike Kenny and Beryl, actress Maxine Peake’s stage-writing debut.  One of the most influential sculptors of his generation, Leeds-born artist Thomas Houseago produced a monumental new commission - his first for Yorkshire.  Epic land-art, fashioned by artists, cyclists, school-children and young farmers, appeared as Fields of Vision throughout Calderdale and the South Pennines while Hypervelocity saw a fully functioning French Farm miraculously pop-up in St George’s Square, Huddersfield.  And more than fifteen hundred people attended 100 workshops to be part of Hope & Social and Grassington Festival’s live-gig Tour of Infinite Possibility, singing the festival song “The Big Wide”.

David Lascelles, Chair of the Yorkshire Festival Steering Group, said: “The Festival’s strapline was “Be Part Of It” and the talent of the artists and performers, the enthusiasm of members of the public who joined in or came as audiences, and the generosity of our partners and sponsors made it a wonderful, countywide success. Thanks to all of you for 100 memorable and joyous days!”

Richard Flint, Yorkshire Water Chief Executive, said: "We knew the Yorkshire Festival would be something special for the region and all of the local communities have played their part to put on a wonderful 100 days. We had the drama of the piano pull up Cragg Vale, the spectacular display of the Ghost Peloton and the transformation of some of Yorkshire's finest landscape, including two of our reservoirs, as part of Fields of Vision. We're immensely proud as a company to have helped bring this fantastic festival to the region."

Talks regarding a future Yorkshire Festival are now underway.

Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “Yorkshire Festival shone a spotlight on Yorkshire, creating an exceptional summer for people in readiness for the grandest ever Grand Départ. The success of the festival shows the exceptional artistic talent we have in this county and what we have to offer the world.

With all the current talk of northern powerhouses, this is the perfect time to demonstrate tangible Yorkshire ‘True Grit’, and launch a new festival for the North.  From today, we kick-start our ten year plan to create Yorkshire Festival for the future.”

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Utility company scoops top engineering award

Yorkshire Water has become the first water company to win a top engineering award. 

Emma Hughes and Jonathan Piatka from Yorkshire Water’s Flood Strategy team  joined forces with former employee Catherine Minor who now works for URS to win the Young Engineer 2014 competition at the SoPHE annual dinner in London. 

Run by The Society of Public Health Engineers  (SoPHE) entrants had to find ways to make a typical wastewater treatment system more resilient against floods for a small town in Bangladesh, where such events are frequent and prevent the installation of such treatment systems.

The trio who all lives in Leeds beat off strong competition from 10 other teams, one from Ukraine and the rest from the UK, and will be travelling to Bangladesh with WaterAid, next year.

During the trip they will meet with local authorities and non-government official representatives and gain an understanding of whether their design is feasible and what changes will need to be made before it can be implemented.

Emma Hughes, Flood Strategy Engineer, said: “Having been supporters of WaterAid , having attended and helped to organise many events to raise awareness and funds, it was a very exciting opportunity to be able to use our technical skills in support of WaterAid too.

“When we entered we didn’t expect to win because there was a lot of strong competition but we were one of the four teams to be shortlisted and travelled to London to hear the results.
“We are absolutely over the moon and still can’t quite believe it.”

Yorkshire Water’s CEO Richard Flint said: “We are delighted to be the first water company to win as it embeds what we do as a firm, working with a great charity like WaterAid to give people around the world access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene.

“The Flood Strategy team worked extremely hard on their entry and put a lot of thought into what has and hasn’t worked in the past and that was commended by the judges. This is a fantastic achievement.”

Rémi Kaupp, Programme Officer with WaterAid and one of the judging panel for the award, said: "The winning team's proposal highlighted a number of technical, social and institutional solutions which remain adaptable for those implementing them in Bangladesh. They demonstrated not only their expertise of flooding planning, but also their savvy research into the lessons learned from disaster risk reduction in developing countries to date.

“Their proposal, which they will pilot themselves during a trip to Bangladesh, will bring huge value to WaterAid Bangladesh and our partners there."

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Kelda Group Appoints New Independent Chairman

Kelda Group has today announced that Professor Richard Parry-Jones, CBE is to become its new, non-executive Chairman from April 1, 2015.

He will replace Kevin Whiteman who announced back in June this year that he would be stepping down after 17 years with the group.

Mr Parry-Jones, born in Wales in 1951, retired in 2007 as Group Vice-President, Global Product Development and Chief Technical Officer with the Ford Motor Company, where he had enjoyed a successful career spanning almost four decades around the world.

Since his retirement, Mr Parry-Jones has combined a career in consultancy with Board roles at the global engineering business, GKN plc, where he is the Senior Independent Director and at the UK’s rail infrastructure and system operator, Network Rail, which he has been non-executive Chairman of since 2012. He has also devoted considerable time over the last 10 years to providing public policy advice to Governments in Westminster and Cardiff on topics ranging from Industrial Policy to Transport and Energy, and to working with Universities to improve and promote teaching and research excellence in Engineering.

He has extensive technical and business experience of the transportation and engineering industries and is widely recognised for his leadership of the development and introduction of breakthrough technologies in both vehicle safety and sustainability. In 2004, his achievements were publicly recognised with a CBE for his services to the automobile industry.

He is also a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and the Royal Society of Statistical Science. He was recently awarded the James Watt Gold Medal by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers – its highest honour, awarded every other year to the most eminent mechanical engineers in the world.

Mr Parry-Jones will join the Board of Directors of Kelda and Yorkshire Water as a non-executive director from January 1, 2015, before officially taking over as non-executive chairman in April.

Commenting on his appointment, Mr Parry-Jones said: “Clean water and sanitation are taken for granted by most of us who live in advanced economies, yet it is a critical public service requiring enormous skill, technology and investment, coupled with passionate customer and environmental care.

“I am excited and honoured to be given the opportunity to work with the executive team to help the men and women of Yorkshire Water and Kelda, one of the best water utility companies in the world, to continue to deliver services ever more safely, reliably and efficiently in the framework of great values and the intelligent use of technology.”

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

On The Hunt For The Pumps

Yorkshire Water is inviting customers to go on a treasure hunt  for around 720 private sewage pumping stations which could help them save up to £1,200 per year in shared energy and maintenance costs.

From 1 October, 2016, a number of private sewage pumping stations will automatically transfer to Yorkshire Water ownership, under a new piece of Government legislation.

These pumping stations are currently the responsibility of residents or businesses and they  connect to the company’s sewerage network. Maintaining them could cost customers up to £1,200 a year – a cost which will be transferred to Yorkshire Water.  

Over the next two years the Bradford based firm needs to ensure it has located and surveyed all the pumping stations it thinks are eligible in the region.

Dave Wilson, Transfer Manager at Yorkshire Water said; “We estimate that there are 720 private pumping stations in our region and currently we have identified around 560 sites.  

“It’s really important that we locate and survey all the pumping stations in our area. That’s why we’re asking for customers right across the region to help us find them and potentially save themselves a lot of money at the same time.

“They literally could be anywhere, in your back garden, or on land next to your home or business, or just on the side of the road.

“Normally you will only see the steel access covers and a metal kiosk, usually green, which contains the electrical control equipment for the pumps. However, many of the controls are located in customers properties.”

Customers wishing to understand more about  private sewage pumping stations and what they look like can find information on the company’s website – or they can call call 0345 1 24 24 24.