Introducing the Customer Challenge Group

SEW Customer Challenge Group July 2013

Formed in April 2012, the group is instrumental in making sure the views of both household and business customers are at the heart of the Company’s next business plan, which will cover the period 2015 to 2020.

Let’s now introduce you to the Group’s members (most of whom are pictured above outside Water UK’s offices) who are, from left to right:

Karen Gibbs:

Regional Manager for the London and South East Area, Consumer Council for Water

Karen leads the Consumer Council for Water's Environmental Policy Team and is the Regional Manager for London and the South East. Areas of particular interest include water resources planning, demand management and water efficiency, metering and drought management. Karen has worked in consumer representation within the water sector since 1993.

Janet Hill:

Climate Change Officer, Swale Borough Council

Janet’s council role sees her taking responsibility for all matters relating to climate change and embedding it within council policy. She regularly advises officers and members on government policy, and is a key member of the Kent Climate Change Network.

Janet has previously worked for CPRE Kent and the Kentish Stour Countryside project. She also worked with VSO and Save the Children in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania.

Likewise, before joining South East Water’s independent Customer Challenge Group, Janet was a member of the London and South East Committee of the Consumer Council for Water.

Caroline Farquhar:

Projects Co-ordinator, Tonbridge & Malling Citizens Advice Bureau

Caroline Farquhar started work at the Tonbridge and Malling Citizens Advice Bureau (TMCAB) in 2006 as a volunteer adviser and later as a staff member. The TMCAB is one of over 380 individual charities across England and Wales that provides free, impartial and non-judgemental advice to the public on matters such as debt, benefits, housing, relationships, legal issues and employment. Citizens Advice Bureaux are also members of the national Citizens Advice organisation which is an independent charity in its own right.

Caroline is the project lead of the Kent Consumer Empowerment Partnership and is also part of the strategic management team for a partnership of West Kent Bureaux.

Prior to joining the CAB, Caroline spent ten years in the investment banking industry in London, in internal audit and control functions, and as a Credit Officer. Caroline has a law degree and an MBA.

Roger Darlington:

Independent Chair of the Customer Challenge Group

Roger Darlington has wide-ranging chairing experience and currently chairs the DCMS Consumer Expert Group, the Consumer Futures Post Offices Advisory Group, and the Nominet Policy Stakeholder Committee.

He also has deep experience of speaking for consumers in regulated industries having served on the governing bodies of organisations such as Consumer Focus, Postwatch, the Communications Consumer Panel, and the Internet Watch Foundation.

Before becoming a portfolio worker in the consumer sector, Roger spent 24 years as a national official with the Communication Workers Union, spending the last seven years as Head of Research. Before becoming a union official, he served in Westminster and Whitehall which has given him a good insight into public policy. He has a First Class Honours degree in Management Sciences from the (then) University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology.

John Archer:

Regional Environment and Land Use Adviser, NFU South East Region

John Archer is Regional Environment and Land Use Adviser with the National Farmers’ Union in the South East. He has been with the NFU for over 16 years, following a career in the Royal Navy. His NFU work has included water quality and resources as well as planning, employment, public access and a range of other regulatory matters. He has represented the agriculture sector on the South East River Basin Planning Liaison Panel since its inception, and has been a member of numerous catchment project steering groups across the region, including Catchment Sensitive Farming, the Downs and Harbours Clean Water Partnership and the River Avon Restoration Project board. John is also a member of South East Water’s Environment Focus Group.

Kathryn Rathouse:

Social Research Consultant

Jim Barker:

Water Planning Manager for the South East, Environment Agency

Jim has worked for the Environment Agency since its conception in 1996 in various roles including incident response, inspection and regulation and strategic planning.

In his current role he is responsible for the Environment Agency’s contribution to the Water Framework Directive, Water Resource Management Plans and the 2014 business plan process.

Group members not included in the photo are:

Elinor Cordiner:

Drinking Water Inspectorate

Elinor Cordiner is a Principal Inspector with the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) and oversees drinking water safety planning and risk assessments, the periodic review process, and regulatory programmes of work. She has also acted as the liaison inspector for Dwr Cymru, Dee Valley Water and United Utilities, with responsibility for maintaining an overview of water quality issues for the companies.

Hailing from the Swansea Valley, Elinor studied microbiology and biochemical engineering in London (UCL) before joining Severn Trent Water as a graduate trainee in 1990. She spent 15 years with the Company in a variety of roles, predominantly related to drinking water quality, before joining the DWI in November 2005.

In 2010 Elinor was awarded an MBE for services to the Drinking Water Inspectorate, following the Inspectorate’s investigations into the cryptosporidiosis outbreak in North West Wales in 2005/2006.

Louise Bardsley:

Natural England

Louise is Natural England’s Senior Adviser for the water sector in the South East of England. She is currently the lead on Natural England’s engagement with the water companies in the region including Southern Water, Thames Water and South East Water.

Louise has worked for Natural England and its predecessor English Nature since 2001 in a variety of roles, though usually maintaining a link to the water environment. She represented Natural England’s local team in the Asset Management Planning discussions for the 2000 – 2005 and 2005 – 2010 price reviews, as well as looking after a suite of wetland and heathland designated sites.

Previously, Louise has worked for the Wildlife Trusts as water policy officer and was a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Sussex. Her PhD is in the terrestrial resource use by the common toad and she has a lifelong passion for amphibian conservation.

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