Water Customer Panel

Independent Customer Panel

The Customer Challenge Group - what we call 'the independent customer panel' - is the panel set up to represent customers in both our South Staffs and Cambridge regions. It provides independent challenge to us and assurance to the regulator Ofwat on the quality of our customer engagement - and the degree to which this engagement is driving decision making in our business planning. As such, it is an important part of the regulatory framework.

What does the panel do? 

It is made up of an impartial board of customers, stakeholders and experts who act on behalf of customers (not just those billed by the company but also the wider community) to keep check on how Cambridge Water operates.

Responsibilities include:


  • Ensuring Cambridge Water is communicating well with its customers in an honest and transparent way 
  • Assessing whether Cambridge Water is listening to its customers and responding appropriately to what they are being told
  • Reviewing whether Cambridge Water is meeting its commitments outlined in its business plan 
  • Challenging Cambridge Water’s performance to be sustainable, affordable and cost-effective for the benefit of customers and the wider community 

How does the panel work?

The panel has its own legal identity separate from Cambridge Water and operates independently of the water company with its own Terms of Reference. Apart from the independent Chairman, members are not paid but may reclaim reasonable travelling expenses and will be offered an attendance fee for meetings.

The panel will meet at least four times a year and at any other critical times in the business planning cycle. They will review reports from Cambridge Water, consult experts and carry out their own research to offer impartial scrutiny to the water company. They will challenge the performance of Cambridge water, encourage innovation and made recommendations it deems appropriate.

An annual report from the Panel will be submitted to Ofwat and made available to Cambridge Water and the Consumer Council for Water. This will include an assessment of how Cambridge Water engages with its customers and others and its business plan and strategy.

The panel will also report to Cambridge Water non-executive directors on a bi-annual basis and to the full board at least once a year.    

Who is on the panel?

The panel is headed up by an independent Chair recruited via an agency by the former chair of the South Staffs Water CCG and a Non-Executive Director. The Chair is responsible for directly recruiting members of the panel. Members are expected to serve for three years or more, with a maximum term of five years.

Simon Sperryn, MA, MBA, CCMI, FRS

Independent Assessor for British Chambers of Commerce; mentor to third sector CEOs; previously CEO of not-for-profits including London Chamber of Commerce, Lloyd’s Market Association, and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply.


John Thompson LLB, DMA, FCIEH

Chair of South Staffs Water Charitable Trust which helps vulnerable customers in Staffordshire and Cambridge; Chairman, Lichfield Civic Society; previous career in environmental health and housing in local government, latterly as Chief Executive of Lichfield Council.

Neal Jennion BEng, MRAeS, MIOD

Infrastructure and Compliance Director, Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group

Aeronautical engineer; responsible for major infrastructure projects, facilities management, health and safety, environmental and quality and security compliance across Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group; responsible for safe and efficient operation of Cambridge Airport; active member of Royal Aeronautical Society.

Adam Lines

Severn Trent and Anglian River Basin Account Manager, Environment Agency

An environmental science graduate, responsible for protection of the natural environment throughout the water catchment areas of the Severn and East Anglia, including regulation of South Staffs and Cambridge, the waste water companies for both our areas, and our neighbouring water suppliers.

Tracey Richardson, Eng Tech, LCGI, MCIPHE, RP

Plumbing assessor, lecturer and Lead IQA for EAS Mechanical Limited; Master Plumber; member Enrolment and Election Committee, Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering; Secretary, National Association of Plumbing Teachers; previously Sergeant in RAF, with service in the Falklands.

Roger Gray MB, BS, MA, FRCS

Consultant surgeon; advisor to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman; Associate Lecturer, University of Cambridge, and Fellow of Murray Edwards College, Cambridge.

Professor Bernard Crump MB ChB FRCP(UK) FFPHM

Chair, Central and Eastern Region, Consumer Council for Water

Chair of the Panel’s predecessor body the Customer Challenge Group for South Staffs and Cambridge Water; Regional Chair of CCWater, the statutory body representing customers across the water industry; a qualified public health doctor; Professor of Medical Leadership, Warwick Medical School; previously Director of Public Health, CEO of a Strategic Health Authority, and first CEO of the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement.

Nicola Terry, BSc, MA

Environmental consultant, with first class degrees in Computer Science and Engineering and Environmental Studies, as well as a Diploma in Pollution Control. Active volunteer in Transition Cambridge and Cambridge Carbon Footprint. Clients in the last three years include the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Department for Energy and Climate Change, Department for Rural Affairs, and the Department for Communities and local Government. Recent projects relate to monitoring domestic energy efficiency and household behaviour.

Jonathan Conder

Report Writer

A graduate in Business Studies and Finance; 30 years in the defence and aerospace industry, latterly as Head of Strategy working closely with the Executive Board of Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group. A former member of the Charted Management Institute and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators; has also undertaken the Advanced Development Programme at Cranfield University. Currently Head Rowing Coach and Boathouse Manager at Jesus College Cambridge and a ‘Coach Educator’ for British Rowing.

Principal contact with South Staffs Water and Cambridge Water

Caroline Cooper
PR19 Programme Lead, South Staffs Water