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MP recycles Christmas cards to help fund tree planting

January 7, 2009 11:04 AM

South Lakes MP Tim Farron, and shadow secretary of state for DEFRA, has called on DEFRA ministers to step in and rescind the changes to water charging which will increase water bills for churches alone by £15million.

Changes to the charging schemes for surface and highways water drainage have already begun to affect churches as well as many voluntary organizations.

United Utilities, the water company for the North West, say that a medium sized church with a small car park could now be charged £300-£500 per year, but the cost rises to £2,000-£5,000 for some larger churches with extensive paved areas or car parks.

If fully implemented across the country on this basis, the estimated annual cost to Church of England churches and cathedrals alone is said to be around £5 million for surface water drainage and £10 million for highways drainage contributions.

The changes are not just affecting churches; they will also adversely affect many other non-Church bodies and charities, such as the Scout Association, and those who maintain many of our village halls and local sporting facilities.

Commenting Mr Farron said:

"I am calling on ministers to instruct the water regulator to review these charges urgently and make sure that churches and voluntary organisations begin 2009 without the financial headache of worrying how to plug holes in their finances.

"Our churches and community groups like the Scouts provide communities with a focus and this time of economic hardship we need to be supporting these organisations, not making their jobs harder."