Comment posted Bridge of Orchy in stand off with council on water supply by Ian Andrew.
While the village of Bridge of Orchy is grateful for any support, it is important that their position be put in a balanced manner and I am happy to respond to any questions.
On the points raised:
In 2003 an enquirer to the Council Tax Office at Argyll and Bute was told the water supply was included in the Council Tax bill, there was no separate line because the Authority is not a separate water supplier. As a result, everyone in the village was re-assured they were paying for their water system. The businesses in the village have contributed fully to the cost of repairs over the years.
Prior to the Council installing the present system there were two supplies in the village but everyone was placed on the new supply without consultation, private houses businesses and Council property alike.
The Council continued to maintain the supply without question until the major failure in 2010, thereby reassuring everyone that they were the responsible person required for management of a water supply. Only when a large bill was estimated did they state they were not responsible, no other person or body is the responsible person.
The system is not fit for purpose and it transpires that when it was installed in 1996 it was connected to lead piping, which was illegal. There is therefore no guarantee that there are no problems elsewhere in the system which are not visible.
The villagers are happy to pay towards repair of the system but without some guarantee of it’s durability they are not in a financial position to accept the third party liability involved in maintaining it, which could potentially involve digging up or repairing the A82 in event of a burst or subsidence.
All rights to the water supply are legally vested in Argyll and Bute Council, and no-one else. They have the permission from Landowners to extract the water and run the system through their land.
The Council representatives have made it clear they will not enter into any form of discussion on what can be done, the villagers either accept their proposal or they will not provide servitude rights, effectively cutting off the right to clean water which the United Nations consider a basic human right.
A deadline of a few weeks has been set to make that decision and villagers have been advised to seek legal advice before signing. The deadline does not give sufficient time to seek the necessary technical and legal assistance, which will only come at a major cost.
No other community in Scotland has ever been placed in this position and all the other agencies and political bodies contacted are appalled by the manner in which it is being handled.
Bridge of Orchy has an ageing population and the situation is causing distress and health worries for elderly residents who have neither the technical or legal knowledge to manage their own water system.
The villagers feel very strongly that while they try to seek solutions the Council is pressuring them to accept their option as the only solution. This will not provide a supply which meets Scottish Water standards.
The villagers are asking that the supply be brought up to a standard where it could be accepted by a water authority who would, hopefully, take it over. They would then be able to pay for their water the same as everyone else in the country and would have no worries about major costs from the third party liability of running their own system.
Ian Andrew also commented
- Let us be clear on one point. The villagers are not objecting to paying their share, what concerns them is that the infrastructure they are being left with is not fit for purpose and will not last. In these circumstances they will be left with all the risks in event of a failure, a potentially major risk if you consider pipes under the railway and the A82 and the potential for claims from visitors. They have attempted to gain insurance or obtain some form of private cover but no-one will touch the system the Council installed without consultation.
Personally, I have no issue with any posted opinion which does not match mine but I reserve the right to differ. That’s what democracy is all about, not bullying people over whom you think you have some control.
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