Following research showing that there were 152 separate incidents of raw sewage dumps into the water system in the Southport area in one year, Liberal Democrat councillors are calling on the local council to help protect residents and the environment.
The situation could be much worse than recorded as data uncovered nationally by the party showed that water companies' equipment for monitoring sewage pollution is often not in place or in operation.
Cllr. Gareth Lloyd-Johnson from Meols Ward where many of the incidents took place, believes the Council can “fill a vacuum” and champion the cause of clean water and safe beaches on behalf of local people. He does not believe that OFWAT the water industry regulator i suo to the job and is calling for a new tougher regulator to be set up in line with Lib Dem policy.
Local Liberal Democrats want United Utilities to provide regular reports to the Council of sewage dump issues and progress made in reducing them. They support calls to give local councils powers to fine Water Companies where progress is not being made.
Cllr. Lloyd-Johnson says , “The water companies, the industry regulator and even the current government are passive and compliant in the face of this problem with Southport's Conservative MP in parliament refusing to back tougher measures.
The Council needs to step up and fill the vacuum.
We have the statutory duty to safeguard public health as well as the duty to protect the environment. We all pay water rates and I’m sure want to see more money on checking raw sewage going into the system and less on shareholder dividends and executive bonuses.”
Opposition leader on Sefton,Cllr.John Pugh added, “ Water is not a service the Council runs, but it is one that the Council can influence.The Council and United Utilities currently have to work together on a range of issues and we should seize the chance to try have a real impact on a service the public fund but cannot control.
It may be a bit of of a David and Goliath battle- a small democratic body versus a giant corporate- but the public are with David on this one .”