Business Stream chief grilled over farm complaints

Complaints that had poured in from the farming sector over the operations of Business Stream, Scottish Water's commercial supply arm, were aired during scrutiny of the organisation in the Scottish Parliament yesterday.

Jo Dow was questioned over debt collection and other complaints from farmers. Picture: Contributed

Major areas of complaint included the 14-day payment window, the aggressive nature of debt collection which followed if this was not adhered to, and poor communication when farmers sought to resolve problems.

However, Business Stream’s chief executive, Jo Dow, told the parliament’s environment committee that while this default payment scale was short, the first move was a “gentle reminder” and that a slightly longer period of grace was usually allowed for payment.

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Answering a question from Graeme Day, chairman of the committee, Dow said that the organisation aimed to pay its own bills as soon as possible but it was indicated that this could sometimes be closer to 28 days.

However, she said that while the 14-day period for their customers required under their terms of business was the default period set by the regulators, the company could look at changing this.

A list of case studies had been sent to the parliamentary committee by NFU Scotland which had collated the experiences and ­disappointment in the service experienced by the farming industry.

Gemma Cooper, the union’s legal and technical policy manager, said that NFUS had been working with Scottish Water for some time now, members had raised a number of cases in which they had felt that Business Stream was falling short and providing a “very poor level of service”.