Measures to transfer water and sewerage services to three new water boards were announced in last Thursday's Queen's Speech and are set to be contained in the forthcoming Bill on Scottish reorganisation. COSLA has consistently argued the proposed water boards were merely the first step towards the government's original plans for the outright privatisation and franchising of services.
And according to its opinion poll results published this week, 85% of Scots agree that removing responsibility for water and sewerage services from councils will eventually lead to privatisation. COSLA also revealed that 86% of Conservative voters in Scotland support the status quo, while only 13% favour a transfer. The association's president, Charles Gray this week endorsed the government's reaction, calling the findings 'no surprise to me'. 'The results leave no room for doubt that the government has once again got it wrong - the Scottish people believe in local accountability which can only be achieved through democratically elected councils', he said.
The Scottish Office defended its proposed changes against COSLA's claims. It argued that the needs of the water and sewerage industry would be better served by three new authorities than 'by a structure based on the new local authorities.