Our headline is based on the results of a parliamentary question by Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour for Weapons of Mass Destruction, on fines paid by the nationalised, SNP-controlled, Scottish Water.
Baillie has, unfortunately for her, discovered that the level of fines has fallen dramatically since 2015 suggesting that Scottish Water has made major improvements resulting in far fewer leaks and thus far less damage to customers’ property.
In the three years from 2015/16 to 2017/18, fines fell by 57.3%*.
*Following Reporting Scotland editorial guidelines, the last three years were chosen to help audiences appreciate the point we’re trying to make at TuS.
In my capacity as a Community Councillor and as a volunteer for the charity Sustrans, I have,over the past 10 years had a number of dealings with Scottish Water. The River Kelvin passes through my local area and there is a lot of cycling infrastructure along the Clyde, Kelvin and White Cart. For many years there had been issues of seasonal flooding and poor drainage. Scottish Water has had to tackle a long backlog of neglect of the water and sewerage infrastructure, which has been exacerbated by things like global warming and ill advised planning consent to build on flood plains. This is a long term task, not just to bring things up to standard, but also to maintain things regularly.
Inevitably, such works require temporary closures of streets and paths and the provision of temporary diversions. The latter usually requires a good level of local knowledge and also informing local people about what is being done, why it is being done and how long t will take. SW personnel have been very open and responsive to local people and are proactive in initiating consultation and views and advice of local people are included in programmes. They are also, pretty good at leaving ‘legacies’ in addition to the improvements. For example, diversion routes are constructed to a good standard, and, once works are completed these routes remain as enhancements to the local infrastructure.
The cavilling, oppositionist approach of Labour in particular, but also by the LibDems and (surprisingly!) to a lesser extent by the Tories, amplified and foghorned by the mainstream media means that such an excellent public service orientation as exemplified by Scottish Water is unreported.
Another example, from a different context is that in many aspects, Scotrail performs well, particularly in reliability and punctuality. But, what we get from BBC Scotland and the Herod is a litany of failures. There are issues, but some of them – such as additional rolling stock – will be addressed in the medium term.
The unionist parties and their media cronies do Scotland a serious disservice and, Ms Jackie Baillie, is one of the worst offenders. She is someone, who has been a minister and is no fool. She is a member of national bodies and knows the nuances. She is wilfully and cynically choosing to present things badly for tribal gain. It is a self-defeating approach,because if she or her party gains power again, people will very quickly deploy the same cavilling and unconstructive approach against her and her colleagues.