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North west authority aims to be first in the country to take local control over water supply

A council in the north west of England has applied to the national water regulator for a license to deal directly with United Utilities on water and sewage.

Blackpool Council says it will achieve savings of nearly £200,000 in the first three years after taking charge of services, with £50,000 expected in the first year.

Cllr Fred Jackson, cabinet member for the environment, said the authority had applied to Ofwat this week for the license, which gives it the right to directly manage retail services for over 120 sites across Blackpool.

As part of the plans, the council has partnered with a local private firm which will take over retail management in an attempt to drive efficiency and ensure compliance with the relevant regulatory codes.

“This is an exciting initiative and we are looking forward to the opportunities that a self-supply licence offers us in managing our water usage responsibly, efficiently and cost-effectively,” Jackson said.

“We are the first public sector organisation to apply for this licence. There are many benefits such as reducing administration costs and cutting out the margin that goes to others in the supply chain. We will pay the price that retailers pay to the water company which will deliver significant savings.

“The licence also gives us a voice as it offers certain rights such as voting rights which can help influence the future development of the water market and the water strategy of the wholesaler.”

Late last year, Blackpool Council was involved in another scheme to bring resources back into public control, after it spent £4.25m buying back the site of Blackpool Airport.

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