ANGLIAN Water has not denied trade union claims that former chief executive Jonson Cox left with a £10million severance – but says that, whatever he was paid, he was worth it.

During his six-years in charge of what was an ailing and overstretched would-be multinational when he joined, the share price rose from £5 to £15 as Huntingdon-based AW reverted to its core business as a regional water company.

GMB the water workers union complained that the £10 million that he got would have paid for all the cuts in terms and conditions of employment imposed on the workforce.

Mr Cox joined Britain’s largest coal producer, UK Coal, as executive chairman on November 15.

Mick Ainsley GMB organiser said: “Johnson Cox, the head of Anglian Water, has left the company with a payout of £10million. This money was funded by cuts and jobs losses and increased charged to customers.

“What is particularly galling and hard for GMB members to swallow is that earlier this year Anglian Water reduced the terms and conditions of water workers and made redundancies, claiming poverty in light of the OFWAT determination to stick to the current five-year plan.

“The £10 million that he got would well and truly have paid for all the cuts.”

But the company insisted that, whatever the nature of the 54-year-old former Yorkshire Water and Railtrack executive’s farewell payment, the cost would be borne by the company’s owners – venture capital group 3i and three pension funds – not by water and sewerage customers.

Spokesman Ciaran Nelson told The Hunts Post: ““It’s the policy of Anglian Water not to comment on speculation about the individual reward packages of any member of staff.

“Jonson Cox was chief executive of the Anglian Water Group for six years during which the group recorded a total shareholder return of 595 per cent.

“When he joined Anglian water, the share price was just 525p per share. Robin Saunders had tried to buy Anglian Water for 520p per share. Three years later, the sale price to the three pension funds and 3i – the Osprey Consortium – was 1578p per share.

“It’s important to emphasise that any reward package was paid by the shareholders in recognition of that success.

“By turning around AWG into an efficient, service-led water company, Johnson delivered tremendous value for shareholders.

“During his tenure, Jonson also achieved a complete turnaround in the fortunes of the group’s international and property businesses, amongst others.

“Executive Directors are incentivised and rewarded by our shareholders for the running of a very successful business. We are a highly regulated business, and as such bill-payer’s money is not used to fund the long-term incentive schemes of executive directors.

“Anglian Water is, for the fourth year running, among the top two performing water companies in England and Wales according to Ofwat, the industry regulator.”

Mr Nelson added: “Over the next five years, Anglian Water customers’ bills will fall by £28, while the company will invest £2billion in the region. That’s in addition to the £2billion spent in the last five years.

“Clean, safe drinking water and comprehensive waste water treatment cost our customers little more than £1 per day, for some of the highest quality water and waste water treatment in the world.”