Severn Trent announced today that it has selected United Utilities/RSPB as its 'preferred bidder' for the Lake Vyrnwy Estate in Montgomeryshire. One privatised utility company selling the bulk of the village of Llanwddyn to another. Severn Trent also announced today that no 'preferred bidder' has been chosen for the rented housing it owns in the village or the sporting rights on the Lake as yet. This is the biggest land sale in Wales for many years and the decision has outraged local opinion - for two reasons.
Firstly, another bidder, Mr Rhys Jones, a businessman with strong local connections had engaged enthusiastically with local people and had satisfied them that he wanted to make major investment in the Estate, something that has been lacking under Severn Trent's ownership for many years. Inevitably, local people are disappointed because 'their' man did not win. Second reason for outrage is the cloak of secrecy surrounding the deal. Its not like its one farm - its almost their entire community. And the only reason Severn Trent made their intentions public today was that local Cllr., Simon Baynes and I did it for them last week.
I cannot criticise the actual United Utilities/RSPB bid because I know nothing about it. Its all a big secret. But local people have been desperately unhappy with the way Severn Trent and RSPB have managed things in the past. The best hope of blowing all this secrecy out of the water is Lord Elis Thomas, Chair of the National Assembly's Environment and Sustainability Committee, who is considering establishing some sort on inquiry into the sale. Now that would be fun - forcing the two privatised utility companies and RSPB to answer questions in public on the background to what looks a cosy deal. Perhaps they'll refuse to show. Perhaps Dafydd El will have them summonsed! Watch this space.