ANOTHER VIEW; No water? In Bradford?

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The Independent Online
What a glorious summer, particularly for those of us on holiday during the incredible sunshine of recent weeks. But what a penalty we now seem likely to pay. All of us take water for granted until something happens, and the first signs - the hosepipe bans - were a warning that perhaps ought to have been taken more seriously. Now it comes home to roost with a vengeance and companies are being asked by Yorkshire Water to take drastic action to reduce their consumption in the hope of avoiding major problems later.

A letter from Yorkshire Water to industrial users in its drought-hit areas, recommending a series of methods of reducing water consumption, has excited a great deal of comment - with good cause.

The great city of Bradford has for many generations traded internationally - it has built a reputation for quality and for delivering on time. How sad if that were to be interrupted, after so much effort, for lack of water - in England!

The private sector, faced with an increasing market, breaks its back to respond to that increasing demand. Water is essential to dyeing, scouring and other aspects of textile production, and we have here the highest concentration of wool processors in the world. Even though the water boards are now companies, it isn't so easy when one talks about laying and repairing pipes at a cost of hundreds and thousands of pounds per mile. However, be the problem before privatisation or post-privatisation, in an area which traditionally has a high rainfall we must surely start devoting significant effort to avoid a repetition of this problem.

Bradford needs to grow over 1,000 more jobs to keep pace with its rising population. It is a super location in which to live and work. Let not the potential investor be dissuaded from bringing his or her jobs into our area - because water there will surely be!

It is wholly right that industry and commerce should take their share of reducing consumption to avoid problems. It is, however, regrettable that a good letter from Yorkshire Water inviting companies to reduce their consumption (and, incidentally, for most of them to save significantly on their costs) should be spoilt by two unfortunate and impractical suggestions.

I do not know how a company, at this late stage in the summer, can extend its holiday close-down as Yorkshire Water suggests, even if the employment consequences of so doing and the effect on the outstanding order book could be managed successfully. And similarly I am unaware of companies with idle plant elsewhere that can take over the production normally undertaken in this area.

We have much to do to match supply to demand, and our efforts in the months and years ahead must surely be directed towards ensuring that this ludicrous situation can be avoided in future.

The writer is president of Bradford Chamber of Commerce.