Lancashire water bug: Compensation of up to £60 'a disgrace', says MP

Cryptosporidium Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Cryptosporidium can cause diarrhoea and abdominal cramps

People in Lancashire who have had to boil tap water for nearly a month are to be given up to £60 in compensation.

More than 300,000 homes have been affected in the county after a parasite was discovered at a treatment works.

United Utilities said payments would range from £50 to £60 depending on when the advice to boil water was lifted. The move will cost them more than £15m.

Conservative MP for Fylde Mark Menzies said the size of the payment was a "disgrace" and "woefully inadequate".

'Paltry sum'

"I think the figure of £50 or £60... in no way reflects the inconvenience people have been put through over the last month without drinking water," he added.

"I am disappointed because when I met with United Utilities last week they said they were consulting on how much they should be giving consumers and were unable to even speculate on the figure."

Mr Menzies said for a company that made "almost £700m in profit last year, to offer this paltry sum is a disgrace."

United Utilities said that while it was offering the same payment to business customers, they would deal with claims for additional expenses on a case-by-case basis.

Paul Maynard, Conservative MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, warned United Utilities: "I would be very disappointed if [customers] receive a cheque for this amount only for their bills to go up by the same amount next year."

And he urged anyone who believes their compensation to be inadequate to contact him or the Consumer Council for Water.

'Significantly inconvenienced'

Gary Dixon, customer services director for United Utilities, said the level of compensation had been set following discussions with the Consumer Council for Water.

"We recognise that our customers have been significantly inconvenienced over the last few weeks and they rightly deserve to be compensated.

"The payment reflects that inconvenience and takes into account the additional cost for boiling the water and a refund for water services over the period.

"We are grateful for our customers' co-operation and patience over the last few weeks."

United Utilities said residents and businesses would start to receive cheques in the post from Friday, but said some would not receive them until the end of the month.

Image caption Warnings to boil water were issued on 6 August

Warnings to boil water were issued after the microbial parasite cryptosporidium was found at Franklaw water treatment works near Preston on 6 August.

Restrictions have been lifted in some areas, with more than two-thirds of homes back to normal.

Water has been treated with ultraviolet (UV) light to kill the parasite, which can cause diarrhoea and cramps.

The water firm said it hoped to lift restrictions for most of its remaining customers by the end of the week.

Customers can check which areas have had restrictions lifted by visiting the United Utilities website or calling 0800 912 7241.

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