Water Coolers and the BBC and our £400,000!!!

Guardian journalist Donnachadh McCarthy exposes the scandalous water expenditure of the BBC.

Both the remaining Guardian subscribers, upon rising this morning were treated to a glorious article regarding the BBC’s expenditure of over £400,000 on bottled water. We spoke to them after breakfast, and to quote them ………….  APPALLED …………  left feeling BETRAYED and ABUSED ………… An AVALANCHE of ANGER and FURY. This vitriolic tirade was unleashed by these normally placid readers in response to story which left LITERALLY THOUSANDS of people feeling DISGUSTED.

But not disgusted at the national insitution  fondly referred to as Auntie, but rather at the Guardian journalist who is now clearly the  strongest contender for the ‘Laziest Journalist of the Year‘ gong. Donnachadh McCarth’s expose/ Mccarthian Witchhunt into the bottled water industry totally misses his mark and ends up embarrassing the journalistic integrity of his newspaper.  Click here for details on the world exclusive.

I was never a fan of Paula Yates, but there was one thing she said that stuck in my mind. She observed that in the event  that she were to step out of her house, perfectly sober, and stumble over a milk bottle, then that was a day’s work completed  done for a lazy journalist. Before you know it a ‘Yates – Mother of Small Vulnerable Children – Drug Crazed at 11am‘ story  is dashed off in less time than it takes towrite an article  highlighting the outrages of  Jade Goody memorabilia being bought  on MPs expenses! Donnachadh McCarthy must sorely lament the demise of Paula – even though her daughters continue to provide more column inches than necessary – in his search for stories for a ‘serious minded’ newspaper like The Guardian.

It was this genre of sloppy, Yatesian journalism that brought out such stinging comments from the Guardian readers. If you’re unable to read the trite article in full  for the shocking revelations, then let me pull out one or two of the most salacious examples of the BBC’s reckless spending.

Mr McCarthy points out that ‘the BBC has been accused of wasting public money (by him I’m guessing) … by spending nealy half a million pounds a year on bottled water‘. Allowing for his 25 % ‘mark up ‘ for dramatic effect (£400k to £500k)  he himself goes on to  say that this is not including spending providing water at the 103,000 events the BBC held last year.

But this isn’t the only instance of this debauched and outrageous squandering of public money.  Mr McCarthy also sheds harsh light that BBC staff are at liberty to guzzle bottled water in the event of a staff meeting that lasts more than two hours. He doesn’t tell us if these public vampires are drinking sparkling or still, and let’s hope that the costs are fully broken down in the inevitable commission/quango that is sure to follow. If the bigwigs at The Guardian have actually located the source of  the British public’s anger, then this story is going to run and run and run ……. at least until the traditional quiet month for news comes to an end.

As any clever journalist (is this an oxymoron in this instance?) does, McCarthy backs up his research …… well, let’s call it ‘research’ ….. with a few well chosen quotes from industry figures, such as Dave Prentiss, Unison’s General Secretary . His quote was  ‘Workers work better if they are hydrated and have access to good clean drinking water. Bottled water is no better than mains water and the effect on the environment of all that water being transported around is enormous.’ These are reasonable points and I will come back to them in a moment – but they certainly in no way damn the BBC and I suspect they were quoted out of context.

To verify this allegation I’ve done my own relentless investigative research. Mitch, in our account department, did however have this to say –  ‘Wastage can never be justified. When we bear in mind what we are doing to the planet then our own personal responsibilities are where we start and make a difference!”. Strong words indeed from Mitch. Admittedly, he was talkng about having to re-order more pens when he had only ordered some last week – but I think this  powerful point still stands, and has adds significantly more weight when quoted slightly out of context.

McCarthy also quotes Susie Squires from  The Tax Payers Alliance, who demands to know ‘What is wrong with the tap?‘ A very good question Susie – and one I would have liked to ask you when you were working for Stockholm Network  – a company we are proud to have as a client and have provided water coolers to for some years now! (I took the liberty of googling Susie and found her career history to be very pertinent to this discussion).

What Susie and her colleagues would have found ‘wrong with the tap’ is that with so many of our clients offices the mains water taps are badly and inconveniently postioned for current office requirements – if indeed they have the access to any potable water, which many of London based offices don’t. That was certainly the case in the example of  Stockholm Network. Even if mains water taps are conveniently postioned then the water that they deliver is unpalatable to most people as it has a noticable taste.

Another pertinent point is regarding the Guardian’s own water provision. Although we have no business with the main offices, as a company we provide bottled water coolers to the printing company for the Guardian Group. Although we looked into mains-fed water coolers these were not permitted under the strict public liability policy in place that covers the very expensive printing machinery. These machines are run by staff throughout the night and in the hot environment of printing press where running to and fro to the toilet to hydrate is not regarded as best practice. Hence bottled water coolers are the only solution for the company to provide adequate drinking water to staff. Horses for courses, I believe.

Companies today are legally bound to provide their staff with potable water. Most companies also take the view that if water is provided it should be conveniently located, not oblige staff to be away from their desks for any undue period of time and finally palatable to drink.

We at The Water Delivery Company provide plumbed in water coolers that can filter London tap water and make it into a chilled, clean tasting drink. However for many offices it is not quite as simple as this. Many landlords in London do not give permission for these installations to take place in their properties, seeing them as a potential problem in terms of risk of  flooding or for reasons regarding their buildings insurance. There are also many offices where a plumbed in water cooler is simply not viable because of the inherent problems of archaic plumbing and low water pressure. For these employers then their legal responsibility obliges them to provide a bottled water cooler for their staff!

The BBC take these responsibilites seriously and they chose to fulfill their legal obligation with a mixture of spending on bottled water coolers, mains water coolers and small pack water supplies. When staff are in meetings lasting over 2 hours, having bottled water nearby avoids the meeting being interupted by a procession of staff marching to the toilets to gain access to the drinking water available when you bend over the basin and try to put your mouth under the tap. For the evidence of this please see Ian9outof10’s comment as an ex worker at the BBC’s White City site).

So we can provide plumbed in water coolers that can deliver clean palatable water to company staff. If that’s not a viable solution then we can provide bottled water coolers – using bottles that can be recycled every week for up to four years! What we can’t do is make people drink London tap water from taps in toilets.  It would seem that Auntie thinks that inappropriate too!

If you have any questions regarding The Water Delivery Company feel free to email us on contact@thewaterdeliverycompany.com.

Alternatively please ring us on 0845 006 3309 or look at  www.thewaterdeliverycompany.com.

Rob Laughton

Rob Laughton

Rob Laughton is an established part of the UK water industry and has business interests in drinking water products. He is actively involved in the self-regulatory associations which work to keep strict standards within the UK water industry.

His related water businesses are listed on www.drinkingwaters.co.uk and include The Water Delivery Company - Londons' largest independent bottled water cooler supplier.

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