Court victory for Hertfordshire County Council means Veolia Water will splash out

HERTFORDSHIRE County Council has won a High Court appeal which it claims will save taxpayers millions – but not if you pay your water bill in Times Territory.

The council won its appeal against Veolia Water over who pays for temporary repairs, after the Hatfield-based water company questioned invoices for temporary ‘make safe’ works carried out by Hertfordshire Highways.

The company, based in Tamblin Way, argued that the cost of the make safes – which involves signing, guarding or making temporary repairs to dangerous defects on the road, even if it belongs to a utility company – was too high (around �300).

Originally, when the case was first heard in February, the High Court ruled in favour of Veolia, but the council appealed on the grounds that it would have to carry out make safes but be unable to recover costs from utility companies, meaning the taxpayer might have to foot the bill.

Following the announcement on Monday, county councillor Stuart Pile, executive member for Highways and Transport, called the decision “a victory for common sense”.

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“We are absolutely delighted with this decision,” he said. “It’s a victory for common sense as this could have cost taxpayers across the country millions.”

But the news will make little difference to residents of Times Territory, who have their water supplied by Veolia. The company has warned that the ruling could now lead to a hike in customers’ bills.”

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A spokeswoman for Veolia Water said: “Our priority in defending this action has always been to reduce additional costs being passed on to our customers.

“We are disappointed by this outcome. The High Court agreed that we were applying the regulations correctly but the Court of Appeal has interpreted the regulations differently.”

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