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Court victory celebrated in Orchard Village Rainham water fiasco

PUBLISHED: 11:19 02 June 2017 | UPDATED: 11:19 02 June 2017

Cllrs Michael Deon Burton and Graham Williamson with resident Leigh Hayward of the Residents Association who are angered at being overcharged for the water supply in Orchard Village

Cllrs Michael Deon Burton and Graham Williamson with resident Leigh Hayward of the Residents Association who are angered at being overcharged for the water supply in Orchard Village

Archant

Court action against a determined councillor was brought to a grinding halt after a utility company’s investigators found evidence to support his case instead of theirs.

Michael Deon Burton (Independent Residents Group, South Hornchurch) and fellow residents on Orchard Village estate raised issues about water meters being assigned incorrectly to properties as far back as 2014.

But Mr Deon Burton said the issue was not addressed by Essex and Suffolk Water – part of the Northumbrian Water Living (NWL) group.

“No one would believe they [residents] were being charged for water they were not using because [of] the wrong meters,” he said.

“They [NWL] would [not] allow independent inspection of properties so the tenants could get the proof to support their case.” That was until undertook a risky manoeuvre and stopped paying his water bill so that he would be brought to court.

“There is one person in my house and I have been paying for a family of four, five, six people,” he said.

“I think it is absolutely scandalous.”

The case – due to be heard at Romford Magistrates Court on Friday, May 26 – was dramatically withdrawn on Tuesday, May 23, after NWL investigators found inconsistencies.

“What a victory,” added Mr Deon Burton.

In an email seen by the Recorder, NWL said: “We have, by conducting supply checks at neighbouring properties at Barley Court, determined that there may be an irregularity in the consumption registered which supplies a small number of neighbouring properties.

“On balance it is possible that the registered consumption for your [Mr Deon Burton’s] property is inaccurate and your bills are in need of amendment.”

A spokeswoman for NWL said the majority of meters inspected were found to be assigned correctly but residents affected will be refunded if they have overpaid and not charged if bills were underpaid.

In September 2016, the Recorder reported the launch of an investigation by the energy ombudsman after Colin Nickless of Broadis Way, paid £1,000 for hot water and heating in one year despite an energy performance certificate stating bills should be £334 annually.


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