Ten­ant had 13yr fight to get at truth

Sunday Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAN WAR­BUR­TON

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.

SUR­PLUS

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

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