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Axed water boss floats back to top; EXCLUSIVE SACKED TYCOON EYES ULSTER JOB.

Byline: BY VICTORIA McMAHON

A TYCOON sacked by a water company is now in charge of keeping Northern Ireland Water afloat.

Chris Mellor is acting chief executive of NIW Ltd and insiders say he has his sights set on securing the pounds 180,000 top job permanently.

He has taken over the role after under-fire chief Katharine Bryan left NIW under a cloud in May in advance of a damning report.

It will now be up to Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy to decide whether if his sacking from a similar position in England after his leadership skills were questioned will put them off hiring him.

Mr Mellor was shown the door as boss of Anglian Water Group in March 2003 - receiving a golden handshake which topped pounds 1million - after a demand by investors for "new leadership".

They also didn't think his attempts to diversify the business were up to scratch. And since Mrs Bryan left NIW he has enjoyed a massive pay hike to fill her position.

Mr Mellor has held the pounds 40,000 post as chair of the Water Service since February 2006.

The revelation is the latest blow for NIW which caused uproar when it gave Mrs Bryan a pounds 266,000 golden handshake.

She left after stinging criticism and two months before the Utility Regulator blasted the company for a multi-million pound billing fiasco. NIW was last month accused of "flawed management" after a probe into a pounds 16.1million black hole in finances.

The shortfall looks set to be off-loaded on to ratepayers with an extra pounds 30 to be added on to each household bill.

Nipsa's John Corey last night slammed the news Mr Mellor is still NIW boss.

He said: "Trade unions disagreed with the setting up of NIW Ltd and the appointment of the chairperson and board members from outside Northern Ireland. These are the kind of things that arise." And he called for "a new authority board representative of the community"

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 12, 2008
Words:336
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