§ Mr. Meale
Section 29 of the Water Industry Act 1991 places a duty on each customer service committee (CSC) to keep under review, to consult and to make representations to water and sewerage companies allocated to the committee about all matters appearing to the committee to affect the interests of customers or potential customers of those companies; and to investigate any complaint made by a customer or potential customer relating to the carrying out of any of the functions of a water or sewerage undertaker.
The CSCs are established by, and report to, the Director General of Water Services and advise him on issues which affect customers, to inform his decision making.
Resulting from our review of utility regulation, the Government propose to establish a new, independent consumer council for the water sector. We propose to give the new council broad functions within the regulatory system. It will act as a public advocate for consumers, and will be expected to provide information and advice on consumer issues to regulators, Government, Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales, the media and others. It will have the specific task of handling consumer complaints about water companies where these have not been resolved by the company concerned. The council and regulator will need to collaborate, and will be placed under a duty to agree and publish a memorandum of understanding governing such matters as the practical arrangements for consultation between them. Similar arrangements will govern the council's relationship with the Drinking Water Inspectorate. We fully recognise the importance of the regional dimension in the provision of water and sewerage services and the structure of the water consumer council will reflect this.