Peter Hadden Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Peter Hadden

80 per cent set to resist the water tax – survey

(September 2004)

From The Belfast Newsletter, 15 September 2004.
Transcribed and marked up by Ciaran Crossey.

The wave of public dissent towards the proposed water charges threatened to turn into a flood yesterday.

The “We won’t pay” campaign has gathered momentum and more than 80 per cent of people asked said they would not pay any charges and risk breaking the law.

The survey on Stephen Nolan’s BBC Radio Ulster phone-in programme showed the level of commitment that people in Northern Ireland are willing to show in defiance of the so-called “tap tax”.

Minister John Spellar said earlier this week that the average household can expect charges of around £400 per year for their water by 2008.

Peter Hadden is a spokesman for “We Won’t Pay” and believes that people in Northern Ireland are determined to fight the introduction of water charges.

“About 85 per cent of people are saying they will pledge to non-payment. It’s a right of protest,” he said. “You are entitled to that as it is an unjust tax, and people have a right to not pay it. There’s no support for it here. It’s just been proposed by Westminster.”

The organisation are willing to stand up in protest against the imposition of any water charge based on the value of homes and, as Mr Hadden explained, they are organised enough to do it.

“We want to have groups established around all the community to organise non-payment in the event the Government go ahead with it. We need to do that beforehand to be strong.

“The best way to stop it is a public campaign. We have received overwhelming support. It’s in the region of 80 or 90 per cent.”

It is not just a worry about the cost of the tax, however, that annoys people. Many believe they will be paying for their water twice. “They think it’s unjust because people already pay for water in the rates,” explained Mr Hadden.

“A lot of people say that, if they reduced the rates, they would pay it. It’s double taxation. It’s a means of getting people to pay more.”

“We won’t pay” also fear the Government have longer term plans for the Water Service.

“The amount the Government are asking for is way above what we pay now. The reason they want a private charge is because in time they want to hand it over to a private company. The argument is about keeping the Water Service a public body and preventing privatisation.”

The 25 per cent discount for families on low incomes has been heavily criticised as not enough by the General Consumer Council.

Peter Hadden Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 10 September 2016