Water bosses face the chop

FRESH boardroom changes at draught-stricken Yorkshire Water are predicted by industry insiders in the wake of an official admission that chairman Sir Gordon Jones is to quit "as soon as possible".

Sources close to the company yesterday revealed that "a complete clear- out" of executive directors is on the cards after the firm's annus horibilis in 1995.

Executive director Tony Ward is "due to go shortly", while finance director Malcolm Batty has already gone. He has been replaced by Brian Wilson, former finance director of the privatised power utility Norweb.

The remaining two executive board members, managing director Trevor Newton and Jonson Cox, managing director of environmental services, are officially said to be "stable and static." They have "no plans to leave the company". But reliable sources claim that the entire board will be swept away in a massive top-down reconstruction.

Sir Gordon Jones, the pounds 84,000 a year chairman, is to step down long before his compulsory retirement date of February 1997. The search is on for a new chief, and shadow environment secretary Frank Dobson has sharply criticised Yorkshire Water for looking initially at candidates drawn from other privatised utilities - particularly Norweb and NorthWest Water, where executives have been "released" by takeovers.

An industry source said: "I would not be surprised if further heads were to roll. Institutional investors are not happy about all the bad publicity, and the massive tankering operation from Northumberland to take water to the textile and engineering centres must be costing a fortune. There is even talk of political pressure."

Mr Newton famously bathed in a washing-up bowl for three months to save water, but his gesture was somewhat devalued by the disclosure that he had had baths outside the company's distrubution area.

Mrs Diana Scott, spokeswoman for WaterWatch Yorkshire, welcomed the prospect of further board changes. "I would like to see all the board go," she said. "The customers have lost confidence. We see the board retiring en bloc as the only way of getting back customer confidence in Yorkshire Water. Credibility with the shareholders will follow that."

There is also a question mark over some of the company's five non-executive directors, whom WaterWatch Yorkshire accuse of being slow to push through necessary changes at the top.

David Cramb, the senior non-executive director, a board member of the Tunstall Group, is close to stepping down as he has almost reached the compulsory retirement age of 70.

The other non-executive directors are Peter Flesher, Dr Christopher Honeybourne of Allied Colloids, Patricia Marsh and Colin Cooke of Triplex Lloyd. Yorkshire Water insists that none of them have any plans to retire.

"The non-executive directors might also like to examine their consciences," said Mrs Scott. "I think they are guilty of letting customers down."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager / Development Manager - NW London - £58k + 15% bonus

£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own