ISLE of Wight MP Andrew Turner has challenged the chief executive of Southern Water, Matthew Wright, to take part in a public debate on the row over water charges between the company and residents in Gatcombe and Chillerton.
During a debate in the House of Commons last night (Tuesday) Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) minister James Paice, urged both sides to enter into independent arbitration to try to solve the issue.
The row centres over an agreement drawn-up in 1907 by philanthropist Sir Charles Seely who gave land to the then Shanklin Urban District Council in exchange for either free or reduced water rates for residents. The entitlement was supposed to last for 999 years.
However, Southern Water which has taken over the rights and liabilities of the agreement, has declared that the agreement has 'run its course.’
The company has so far refused to go to arbitration to solve the dispute.
Speaking after Tuesday’s debate, Mr Turner said: "If Southern Water are so certain they are right why won’t they enter into arbitration? They know that there is no realistic prospect of them being taken to court by the 'little people’ and they also know that their regulator has refused to get involved.
"They are interpreting the law to be what they want it to be, and riding roughshod over my constituents. Southern Water is a huge monopoly supplier and that is disgraceful."
He added: "If Southern Water continues to ignore such eminently reasonable advice , then I call on Matthew Wright to attend a public meeting on the Island to explain why.
"He can also bring along his lawyers if he likes and they can explain how a legal agreement signed for 999 years is no longer valid afer just 100 years."