This fascinating and impressively researched book by Stokie local, BBC journalist Nick Higham tells the intriguing story of London's water supply. Its subtitle, Private Greed, Public Good, gives some sense of the conclusions we might draw as we turn the final page. Whilst resisting polemic, Nick doesn't pull his punches. The final scary chapter brings us bang-up to date and relates how literally billions have been sucked out of the country through our water companies by a horrifyingly complex web of avaricious international corporations.
Being local to the New River, Nick has included plenty about our own waterway and the role Thames Water, seemingly rather reluctantly, allows it to continue to play in our city's water supply.
This should be compulsory reading for any Londoner. It says as much about where we are today as it does about the past.
Sounds really good, though I almost can't bear to read the whole sorry story. I did read that a fair chunk of our current water bills is going to pay fines incurred during a period when Thames Water was owned by Australian vulture capitalists, who asset-stripped the company and allowed massive sewage leaks into the Thames. At one point apparently even Ofwat, the body set up to regulate private water companies, didn't exactly know who owned Thames Water, as the trail was as murky as the water...
In the final chapter, Higham describes the chain of ownership as a little like the bible - XYZ Co begat XYZ Corp, begat YXZ Ltd, begat XYZ Co ltd, begat XYZ inc, and so under until you get to XYZ operations who actually run the business on the ground. All put in place to make tracking profits impossible and taking on additional profit-feeding loans very easy.
Common good, common ownership?
Any surplus should be reinvested.
Quite Expensive and Harringey Libraries don’t stock this. I will request (esp as local author).
That’s surprising. Well done! Let is know when they get it in.
There's now an extended post by the blogger Diamond Geezer about the book - link here.
A lovely review.