A UTILITIES company has done a U-turn to offer Kingsmead residents the refund they have been fighting for.

The parish council has been in talks with United Utilities since it discovered residents had spent around 18 years paying for a surface water drainage service the company did not provide.

This resulted in a refund offer that covered only six years of that period, and failed to account for residents who had moved away or people who had lived at more than one address in Kingsmead.

But now, following a 605-signature petition by residents and more talks between Kingsmead Parish Council, United Utilities and the Consumer Council for Water, the company has reassessed its position.

A spokesman for United Utilities said: “Households on Kingsmead will receive letters this week telling them they will be reimbursed for surface water charges they paid during their period of occupancy, going back to April 1, 1997.

“After listening to feedback from our customers on the estate and discussing the issue with the Consumer Council for Water, we agreed this was a fair outcome for everyone involved in this complex issue.”

In June 2013 the parish council discovered that Kingsmead’s surface water was draining to a filtration unit that United Utilities did not own, although it was charging customers for dealing with this water.

It adopted the unit in October 2013.

United Utilities has agreed that refunds will go back to April 1, 1997, because before this billing for wastewater services did not include separate surface water and highways drainage charges.

It has now agreed that residents who lived in Kingsmead between April 1, 1997, and October 24, 2013, will be reimbursed whether they still live at the estate or not.

Each Kingsmead property a resident has lived at will be taken into account.

A claims process will be put in place for former Kingsmead residents who now live outside the north west and are no longer United Utilities customers.

Jo O’Donoghue, clerk to Kingsmead Parish Council, said: “This would seem to me as clerk to the council that this is an excellent example of a parish council working on behalf of the community it represents to achieve a successful result for residents.”