Yorkshire Water chief set for retirement at 52

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The Independent Online

Business Editor

Trevor Newton, the Yorkshire Water managing director who shot to notoriety for avoiding showers and baths during the drought last year, is to retire early at the end of May at the age of only 52.

This completes a clear-out of all but one member of the executive board of Yorkshire, Britain's most unpopular water company, which admitted last month that its failure to cope with the drought had cost nearly pounds 150m.

Yorkshire Water denied that Mr Newton had been evicted from his pounds 127,000- a-year job as a result of the water supply fiasco last year, which has led to a public inquiry that starts on Monday. A spokeswoman said: "It is his decision, he has not been asked to leave, he has not been sacked."

Other changes at the top of the company were almost complete, she said. "Trevor feels that it is the right moment to retire for himself and the company to let a new team go forward."

However, Mr Newton's departure is bound to be interpreted at the very least as a voluntary sacrifice in the face of massive public outrage at the company's performance.

His claims about not bathing or showering for three months during the drought also rebounded when he admitted that he had been crossing the Yorkshire border to bathe at his parents and his in-laws' homes.

Mr Newton will not get a payoff or a pension top-up and the company would give no indication of whether he had another job lined up.

Yorkshire also announced that Brandon Gough, former chairman of Coopers & Lybrand, the accountancy firm, is to take over as the pounds 120,000-a-year non-executive chairman from Sir Gordon Jones next month. Mr Gough said he would be looking to deliver "value for all stakeholders."

Sir Gordon, who is 69, said in December that he would be retiring within six months. He does not reach the latest retirement age of 70 until next February.

Mr Newton's own job as group managing director is not being filled and the company has no plans to look for a full replacement. Instead, Dr Kevin Bond, who is joining from the National Rivers Authority on 1 April as managing director of Yorkshire Water Services, the main operating subsidiary, will step into Mr Newton's role as chairman. At the group board level, Mr Newton's role will be split between other directors.

Yorkshire Water said Mr Newton, who has been at the company for 20 years and, like Sir Gordon, saw it through privatisation in 1990, would receive a straightforward early-retirement pension. This would be under the water pension scheme with no special benefits and no golden handshake.

Like other Yorkshire Water board members, Mr Newton's earnings are modest by the millionaire standards of some big public groups.

He has 23,000 share options, including 10,000 to which he subscribed under Yorkshire's employee Sharesave scheme, and his total current profit if they were exerciseable now would be pounds 88,000 before tax.

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