Tenant had 13yr fight to get at truth
Picture: STEVE BURTON A COUNCIL tenant today revealed how she fought a 13-year legal battle to expose the bloated water bill scandal.
Kim Jones, 60, first contacted Southwark Council chiefs in 2003 demanding to know why her charges were so high.
She claimed they ignored her for more than three years – and it was only when she was asked to head up a High Court test case that the scale of the illegal overcharging was laid bare.
Now Kim has been refunded £800 after being overcharged as much as £7 a week for years,
She said: “In 2003 they said they would come back with figures but they didn’t want to come clean, they tried to bury the scandal.
“As far as I was concerned they were hiding something and we knew we had to find out what that was.”
During last year’s High Court case a judge ruled that Southwark Council had charged Kim an amount that exceeded the “maximum charge” allowed.
Mr Justice Newey said his ruling was “of considerable importance” because numerous tenants could be affected and the case could also have implications for other landlords.
Kim added: “The drains in this area are disgusting so if they have had put the money into sorting out the sewers then we would have been happy. But they wanted to hold on to it.”
Following the ruling Richard Livingstone, who at the time was Southwark Council’s cabinet member for housing, called it “very disappointing”.
He said the council was “providing a service” to Thames Water and that the commission it received was intended to cover admin and non-payment. Any surplus cash went towards improving existing homes and investing in new ones.
Southwark Council have spent months refunding tenants for the period covering April 2001 to July 2013, with the latest wave happening in January.
Chiefs tried to downplay the issue, saying on their website: “We didn’t knowingly overcharge tenants, because we thought we were acting as an agent.
“As the court decided that we were a water reseller, this means we mistakenly overcharged by the amount of the commission Thames Water paid us.”
Email us at scoops@ sundaymirror.co.uk RULING Part of test case judge’s remarks