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Where do they stand on sewage?

Nowadays, in more places than anyone thought possible, it seems.

West Oxfordshire Candidates BBC Graphic

But the real question is about the candidates and political parties looking for our votes. What are they offering?

Here is WASP's guide to what the candidates are saying and what their parties are offering.

On 19 June, BBC Radio Oxfordshire published an article and radio interview with WASP's Ash Smith and comments from the West Oxfordshire candidates. WASP calls for radical reform of the water industry to serve the public and environment - as you will know by now. Here is the link to the BBC article

This is what the candidates said - extracts from BBC article:

Robert Courts, Conservative candidate, said he’d been raising the issue with water company bosses since he was first elected to the seat in 2016.

He added: “The anger that people feel is justified and I have tirelessly conveyed this to the water companies, whose job it is to prevent this from happening.”

WASP Comment - Hard for the governing party to hide from the outcome of its performance during the sewage scandal, so no further comment is needed.

Antonio Weiss, who is the Labour candidate, said his party had a plan to tackle the issue: “It’s those blocking of payments, those automatic fines, clamping down much, much harder on criminal charges and just ending this regime of self-reporting.”

WASP Comment - Not getting to grips with the failure of Privatisation - lacking ambition.

Charlie Maynard, who is standing for the Liberal Democrats, said he wanted a change in how water companies are run: “The Lib Dems want to transform water companies into Public Benefit Companies, install a tough new regulator, revoke licenses of failing companies and set legally-binding targets on sewage discharges.”

WASP Comment - Untested approach to dealing with the thorny ownership issues but definite recognition that a major change to the ownership model is needed.

Andrew Prosser, Green Party candidate, wants to see water companies renationalised: “Half measures aren’t going to work. The Green Party will bring water companies back into permanent public ownership.”

WASP Comment - Bold confident proposals to end privatisation and the Green Party knows it is very unlikely that it will have to implement them but it has gone where others have not.

Independent candidate Barry Ingleton also told us he would campaign for water companies to be brought back into the public domain.

WASP Comment - Recognition of the importance of a major step change, but with the obvious advantage of not having to set out an implementation plan.

Richard Langridge from Reform UK said his party would "immediately ban" the practice of polluting our water courses and "fine heavily" those that do so.

WASP Comment - Good sound bite but lacking relation to reality.

David Cox from the Heritage Party said "significant and sustained investment" was needed into building a system that separates sewage pipes from rainwater overspill.

WASP Comment - Previous blogs show the separation problem is overstated and a comparatively minor issue in a complex problem, especially in West Oxfordshire.

Witney treated sewage outfall - overworked and underinvested.

A detailed analysis of the Party manifestoes by Economist Stephen Jones of the WASP team is attached here:

Review of party manifestos (2)
Download PDF • 229KB

With extracts below.

Only the Green Party commits to substantial reform by taking water companies back into public ownership, undertaking a fundamental review of the regulatory framework, and making substantial additional budgetary commitments to DEFRA to support improved environmental monitoring and enforcement. Reform UK proposes that all public utilities should be 50% owned by government and 50% by UK pension funds but is silent on the specific implications of this for the water sector.

The other parties emphasise improved enforcement and tighter regulation to improved water company compliance. The Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats emphasise strengthening enforcement of existing regulations and the expansion of regulatory powers -without it being clear how far these go beyond powers that already exist. But they do not make substantial additional budget commitments to fund enforcement. Nor do they confront the implications for consumer prices of the need for additional investment.

The Liberal Democrats provide the most detail on specific measures, including proposing replacing Ofwat with a Clean Water Authority. The Conservative proposals are based on taking forward the 2023 DEFRA Plan for Water which has been widely criticised for its inadequate approach to developing catchment area management. None of the other parties propose specific ownership or governance reforms for the water companies, except for the Liberal Democrat proposal for local environmental activists to be represented on boards.

The Liberal Democrats state that they would require water companies to be reconstituted as public benefit companies.

The Conservatives commit to reforming the Price Review system but without indicating what such reform might involve. The Labour manifesto concentrates on the use of the Special Administration Regime (SAR) to deal with companies breaching license requirements. However, it provides no indication of whether or how the SAR might be used to bring about long-term changes in ownership or regulation.

And finally, from WASP.

Of course, we recognise that you may be voting for a local MP as well as a Political Party which may or may not deliver on its manifesto to your expectations and you may have many issues to balance.

As far as the sewage pollution and water company battle is concerned, whoever is elected, WASP is going to continue the fight for all billpayers' money to be delivered to beleaguered water company staff and to be spent on bringing our infrastructure into the 21st Century, making our rivers safe for all, not squandered on shareholder dividends.

Cheating, gaming the system and blatantly breaking the law have to end, not at the convenience of water company bosses and owners, but now.

We hope that the incoming government will share our desire to close down the scandal and open the way for water company staff to be funded to excel in their work and bring our waters back to life. Basically, we hope the next government is on the side of the public and environment when it comes to water supply and sewage treatment - not under the thumb of shareholders.

If we have to pay more, let it go to fixing the problems, lining sewers, not lining shareholders' pockets like it has for 34 years and counting.

Whatever happens, WASP is going to continue to fight for a water industry fit for the 21st century, one which makes our waters safe for all.

Our fight to regain healthy rivers should not have to be against our own government, should it?


1 comentario

25 jun

Thank you WASP for all your hard work. The parties all have fine words, but as we know, words are cheap, results are what we need.

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