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It’s Time to Take Your Hats Off

Spring is here – time to throw off some layers and embrace all that is new…

In this season of new beginnings, I too start a new role and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in. As of the 1st April, I am now officially a member of ‘The Panel’. OK, it might sound a little dull but, to me, this represents an exciting opportunity. Let me tell you why.

It’s been two years now since the English water market was deregulated. For all of us working in the industry it’s been two years of working out well, how to make the market work! There have been challenges, some ongoing, but it’s basically been a period of dealing with critical, if a little mundane, issues.

Much like Brexit over the same period, it’s time to move on. It’s time to build on the strong foundations that have been laid for a successful, sustainable, innovative and efficient water market. It’s time to look at the bigger picture and join up all the dots to make Ofwat’s open market vision a reality.

I hope that my new role as a member of the Market Arrangements Code Panel (the Panel) will enable me to play a key role in delivering this. The Panel is the senior industry group responsible for overseeing the operation and evolution of the business water market. Its role is to facilitate optimised outcomes through the effective management of the market codes which govern the water market. Meeting monthly, Panel members must act proactively and with complete impartiality.

This impartiality is, for me the critical success factor. For over twenty years, whatever role I’ve taken on, I have spoken with the voice of the customer. Always have done. Always will. I was nominated onto the Panel by other Trading Parties and I am committed to ensuring that the market is focused on providing excellence for them and hundreds of thousands of business customers across the land.

I believe that by enabling fluid customer journeys through procurement, tender and switching processes, by operating with data-driven transparency and accountability, and by improving performance across the board, customers will be fully engaged with water for the first time. With this higher level of engagement comes the ultimate goal – enhancing water conservation for a resilient, sustainable supply.

For this to happen, everyone involved in the Panel and its various working groups must take off their company hats and leave them at the meeting room door. They must first throw off some layers – ‘the old ways’ and ‘the official company lines’ – and then embrace the new, the innovative, and the ambitious slightly-out-of-reach targets. They must understand the real-world customer impacts of the decisions they take. To not do so, impedes change and frankly, hinders the smooth running water market that we’ve all worked so hard to build.

The Panel Plan sets out current strategic priorities with three focus areas. These are: promoting effective competition; reducing friction and complexity in the market arrangements; and embedding good working practice and efficiency in market code governance. With experienced members and fresh blood around the table, I’m confident that we can deliver on these priorities while bringing further changes to the market for the benefit of those that matter most – the customers.