Shadow Environment Secretary visits Hastings and St Leonards to meet with residents affected by sewage leaks

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The Shadow Environment Secretary visited Hastings and St Leonards yesterday (Wednesday, April 10) to meet with residents affected by recent sewage leaks and flooding.

Steve Reed, Labour MP for Croydon North, held a meeting at the White Rock Hotel before going to Cinque Ports Way in Bulverhythe, which has been affected by several recent sewage spills.

Labour said that Environment Agency data released this week found that last year was worst for sewage spills since records began. Sewage was discharged for 3.6 million hours across England in 2023.

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The number of sewage discharges has risen by 54 per cent, from 464,092 sewage spills in 2023, compared to 301,291 in 2022, it added.

Steve Reed, Shadow Environment Secretary, with Helena Dollimore, Labour's parliamentary candidate for Hastings and Rye, meeting with residents at the White Rock HotelSteve Reed, Shadow Environment Secretary, with Helena Dollimore, Labour's parliamentary candidate for Hastings and Rye, meeting with residents at the White Rock Hotel
Steve Reed, Shadow Environment Secretary, with Helena Dollimore, Labour's parliamentary candidate for Hastings and Rye, meeting with residents at the White Rock Hotel

After his visit, Mr Reed said Labour will expand Ofwat’s regulatory powers, meaning water companies which do not meet environmental standards on sewage pollution will face tough sanctions.

Bulverhythe has suffered several sewage leaks since 2016, with three incidents alone happening in the last year.

On October 18 last year, more than 20 homes suffered flooding due to a sewage leak in the area. More than 30 tankers were also sent to the scene as part of a major clean-up operation after a sewer burst in a field next to Amsterdam Way.

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The subsequent flooding affected industrial units in the Bridgeway Industrial Estate.

Helena Dollimore, Labour's parliamentary candidate for Hastings and rye, with Steve Reed, Shadow Environment SecretaryHelena Dollimore, Labour's parliamentary candidate for Hastings and rye, with Steve Reed, Shadow Environment Secretary
Helena Dollimore, Labour's parliamentary candidate for Hastings and rye, with Steve Reed, Shadow Environment Secretary

In a similar incident, a burst sewer affected the Bulverhythe area of St Leonards earlier on October 1 last year, causing a major leak.

More than 40 tankers were sent to the area, together with hydraulic pumps as a clean-up operation got under way. Tankers also arrived at the Old Bathing Pool site the following day.

A major sewage leak also affected Bulverhythe on February 3 last year. Almost 20 homes were affected after the leak affected Bulverhythe Road. A pavement also collapsed. Engineers from Southern Water then closed off the road and footpaths.

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The company is currently undertaking an £8 million project, which it said aims to prevent Bulverhythe from suffering future sewage leaks.

Lawrence Gosden, CEO of Southern Water, said: “We understand the concerns of our customers in Hastings and St Leonards, particularly those who were affected by recent flooding incidents. We’re continuing to improve our network in the area and are working closely with Hastings Borough Council and the Environment Agency to ensure that homes and businesses are better protected from flooding.

“More widely, we are working hard to deliver fast-tracked improvements in our performance by April 2025 through our Turnaround Plan. We’ve also submitted an ambitious £7.8 billion business plan for the five years to 2030 which includes £4.1bn investment on wastewater services alone.”

Southern Water said it met with customers in Hastings to speak to them face-to-face about their concerns in October last year.

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The firm added that in November last year it launched its Clean Rivers and Seas Plans that sets out spending £1.5bn to reduce storm overflows between 2025-2035 through nature-based and engineering solutions.

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