02 November 2000
Water buyers have expressed disappointment at the first speech by the incoming Ofwat chief, in which he signalled a cautious approach to competition.
Philip Fletcher, director-general of water services, told a conference organised by The Economist what he believed his job was about: "My remit is to facilitate the development of competition. I see that as being significantly different from the task indicated by the government during the passage of the Utilities Act - before its water provisions were removed - the task of promoting competition."
Fletcher said he would take a more hardline stance if the promised Water Bill made it clear that Ofwat's job was to promote competition. He admitted that only eight "inset appointments" - out-of-area water company contracts - had been granted since privatisation 11 years ago.
Chris Lewis, former chairman of the CIPS energy committee, said: "People want Ofwat to take a stronger role, rather than leave it to the government to set the pace."