Yorks Water chiefs 'not paid enough'

Yorkshire Water's beleaguered management yesterday ran into a new storm of criticism after an internal study concluded that they were not paid enough.

The recommendation threatens to rub salt into the wounds of customers who are still facing a hosepipe ban and the prospect of another drought- ridden summer and comes after hefty criticism of the group's management by Ofwat, the industry's regulator, in the wake of last year's water shortages.

The company's remuneration committee, chaired by Christopher Honeybourne, concludes in the company's latest annual report now going out to shareholders that top pay rates are "significantly out of line" with other parts of the industry and with the market in general. Following a shake up at the group, Kevin Bond, chief executive of Yorkshire Water Services, is now one of the two most senior executives, earning pounds 127,000 a year.

Yorkshire said the report would be discussed at the annual meeting on 25 July. However, the company has regarded its pay rates as being at the bottom of the league compared with other utilities. It is understood that the aim is to introduce a long-term bonus scheme "in the fullness of time", though no proposals will be put to shareholders at the annual meeting.

But the plans immediately came under attack. Sheffield Labour MP Helen Jackson, who chairs the all-party group on the water industry, claimed: "Customers and the workforce will be absolutely astonished with this conclusion."

Pete Bowler of the campaign group WaterWatch angrily rejected the report's conclusion. "You don't need to be a brilliant captain of industry to run a monopoly. You have to be absolutely bloody incompetent to run a water company at a loss." Both Mr Bond and new chairman Brandon Gough seemed happy with their salaries on joining the group in recent months, he added.