Seaside landladies fret as taps flow

THE DELICATE relationship between landladies and their guests is now troubled by a new irritant - the compulsory water meter. Worried landladies are watching their profits go down the drain while guests pamper themselves in deep baths and flush toilets with freedom.

The problem has reached crisis point in the West Country where water tariffs have risen to pay for the clean up of the coast. Boarding houses have had to accept water meters because they are small businesses while neighbours who may have their houses in multiple occupation are overlooked.

Pat Dormer-Carter, who is selling her boarding house in Exmouth, Devon, because the business has become so difficult, said: 'Listening to the guests having a bath at night and then a shower again in the morning is hard for a proprietor who is charging only pounds 12.50 for bed and breakfast. That is the average rate, and heavy use of water takes away an appreciable part of the profit. It is one of the extra costs that is pushing the small person out of the tourist business.'

Mrs Dormer-Carter has a Victorian house with six paying bedrooms in an attractive part of Exmouth. In the last two and a half years several boarding houses on her street have gone out of business.

'Tourism in the West Country has been knocked hard. People aren't coming for such long stays any more. The Tourist Board is encouraging us to go en suite to compete with the continentals but it just means people use more water,' said Mrs Dormer-Carter.

New regulations have made the boarding house business more competitive than ever. Now any householder can take up to six paying guests without registering as a business, and so long as registration is avoided there is no need to have a water meter or comply with expensive fire regulations.

'We can't put prices up to pay for the extra cost of water. The business is too competitive. The water company is profiteering from privatisation - it is one of the worst things that has happened to this country. Soon there won't be a proper tourist industry left. Water meters are the last straw,' said Mrs Dormer-Carter.

South West Water, which supplies water and sewage disposal in Devon and Cornwall, is committed to spending pounds 900m on new plants to treat sewage which is at present discharged into the sea in raw form. Facilities now being built in Lyme Regis (West Dorset), Exmouth, Penzance, St Ives, Ilfracombe and 28 other locations will be finished by 1995. Larger schemes in Plymouth, Torbay and the Torridge estuary will take longer.

As a result of these schemes charges to customers have increased dramatically - more than doubling since privatisation. However South West Water also pays its investors a large dividend - larger than any other water company. This policy has led to its share price doubling since privatisation.

Neil Fishpool, director of the Campaign for Water Justice, said: 'South West Water is over-charging its customers in order to pay an excessive dividend and Ofwat, the water watchdog, has failed to do anything to control it. The company has invested pounds 26m in a Texas credit listing company and millions more on other diversification. Instead of taking risks with money raised in the South West it should be keeping costs down and giving its customers better value.'

Eileen Wragg, another Exmouth landlady who has stopped trading, said: 'Our water bill came to pounds 440 a year - twice that of neighbors who did not have a meter even though they had more people in their household. The neighbours can use as much water as they like - if they want to they can hose down the back lane and it won't cost them any more. But we have to worry every time we flush the toilet.'

Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' embraces politics, religion, warfare, courage, love and loyalty, say creators
Sport
Sergio Romero saves Wesley Sneijder's penalty
world cup 2014But after defeating the Dutch, Lionel Messi and Argentina will walk out at the Maracana on Sunday as underdogs against Germany
Sport
Scoreboard at the end of the semi-final World Cup match between Brazil and Germany at The Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte
Sport
'Saddest man in Brazil' takes defeat with good grace, handing replica trophy to German fans
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
peopleThe Game of Thrones author said speculation about his health and death was 'offensive'
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman and Lauren O'Neil in Jamie Lloyd's Richard III
theatreReview: The monarch's malign magnetism and diabolic effrontery aren’t felt
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Sport
Alexis Sanchez and apparently his barber Carlos Moles in Barcelona today
football
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips
video
Arts and Entertainment
In his own words: Oscar Wilde in 1882
theatreNew play by the Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials - and what they reveal about the man
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m
filmWith US films earning record-breaking amounts at the Chinese box office, Hollywood is more than happy to take its lead from its new-found Asian audience
News
The garage was up for sale in Canning Place Mews for £500,000
newsGarage for sale for £500,000
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile App/IOS Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC)

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Mobile App/IOS...

Front End Developer-JavaScript, Angular J.S, HTML, CSS, ASP.NET

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front End Deve...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil