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Water bosses have said they will make a good will payment to St Mary’s RC Church in Arisaig as part of an apology over a long-running water dispute.
Two weeks ago we reported on local parish priest Father Stan Pamula’s battle to convince Scottish Water’s Business Stream retail division that it had a water supply point ID number wrongly attributed to the church.
Father Stan claimed in the four years he had been priest at St Mary’s, he had spent countless hours trying to convince the water company that he was not running a restaurant and that the ID number in question and associated charges should correctly be attributed to a local eaterie in the village.
The Lochaber Times took up his case with Scottish Water, which told us that confusion around supply points was to blame and that action would be taken to resolve the issue.
Scottish Water emailed Father Stan to say it was ‘reviewing the points’ raised and that it would be back in contact as soon as possible on the matter.
A Scottish Water spokesperson has since told the Lochaber Times: ‘As a charitable organisation which is eligible for exemption, St Mary’s does not have to pay water charges, provided exemption is applied for by the church each year. We have now arranged for exemption to be applied and backdated to St Mary’s. This will need to be reapplied for annually by the church in future.
‘The difficulty in this case appears to have been caused by too many supply points being registered to the church in the past. The surplus supply points will be removed from the market to avoid any future confusion and the remaining meter linked to St Mary’s has been verified as being physically located in and supplying the church.
‘We are very sorry for the confusion that has been caused by the surplus supply point references and the inconvenience that Father Pamula has experienced in resolving the issue.
‘We hope that this has now been addressed and will be making a good will payment, via Business Stream, by way of apology.’
And Scottish Water added it was ‘confident’ that the church was not previously paying for the restaurant in question’s water supply.
It is believed the good will payment will come from Business Stream and be in the region of £1,800.
However, Father Stan could be forgiven for thinking the country’s water companies were, indeed, running some sort of personal campaign against him.
Last week he received a letter from water utility company, Pure Utilities, concerning a water supply point for a church on Islay – nearly 200 miles away.
Father Stan, who was able to at least see the funny side, told us: ‘I am not sure how to view this coincidence but it seems that the industry is after me!
‘I received a letter today from Pure Utilites this time about an SPID [water supply point identification number] of an Episcopal Church on Islay. How? What? I am speechless.
‘Have I become a national SPID database on all the churches? This again is proof of the shambles our water industry is in.’
After raising this issue with Pure Utilities, a spokesperson informed Father Stan that the details used for the letter were taken from the church website which were then ‘unfortunately’ these were incorrectly matched to the site in question.
‘Please accept our apologies and be assured these details have now been removed and there will be no further contact from ourselves,’ Pure Utilities told Father Stan.