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Sir Brian Bender appointed as new Water UK chair

Water UK has appointed Sir Brian Bender as its next independent chair.

Sir Brian BenderSir Brian Bender

Sir Brian, a retired senior civil servant whose roles included being permanent secretary at Defra in the early 2000s, was knighted in 2003. More recently he has held roles including chair of the London Metal Exchange and non-executive director at the Financial Reporting Council.

He will be taking over from Martin Baggs, Thames Water’s chief executive, who has been acting as interim chair following the death of Sir David Rowlands in May 2014.

One of his most pressing tasks will be to lead the appointment of a new chief executive for Water UK to replace Pamela Taylor, who is stepping down later this year.

Commenting on Sir Brian’s appointment, Martin Baggs said: “I am delighted that we have attracted such a high calibre person to work with water companies and chair Water UK.

“We all look forward to working with Sir Brian, who has had a distinguished career in the civil service and brings with him significant experience of the water sector. He held several Permanent Secretary postings between 1999 and 2009, including Defra, so he brings much knowledge of many different facets of our Government. He also brings business experience from his roles since his retirement from the civil service.

“Our recent review of Water UK identified the need for us to strengthen our representation in Brussels so his knowledge and understanding of the EU from his time in Whitehall and UKRep Brussels will also prove invaluable to the water industry and our members and indeed our stakeholders.

“I am grateful for the support of the Water UK Board over the past year as we have sought to position the sector, working with our key stakeholders during challenging times, particularly while preparing for retail competition in the sector in 2017. I must also thank the Water UK team, led by Pamela Taylor, who have been a constant source of help and guidance.”

Commenting on his new role, Sir Brian said: “I am struck by the drive and ambition of Water UK and honoured to become its independent chair. My early impression is that of an organisation which knows its role and purpose and has a clear remit on behalf of its members – and a determination to work successfully with stakeholders, encouraging challenge and debate.

“The water industry contributes significantly to the local and national economy, way beyond those of its water supply and sewerage services. Supporting infrastructure development and construction, environmental improvements and apprenticeships are just a few examples. And the sector has a primary role in safeguarding public health.

“We have a great story to share and being chair of Water UK will give me the chance to engage and to build on past successes.

“One of my early and difficult tasks is to help the Board identify a new chief executive to take over from Pamela Taylor who at the end of last year told the Board of her wish to step down. 

“I look forward to working closely with the Water UK board, council, members, Pamela and the staff team.”

Author: James Brockett,
Topic: Policy & Regulation
Tags: defra , government , water companies

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