Hastings councillors call for public ownership of Southern Water

Hastings councillors have called for Southern Water to return to public ownership after many overflows at the Bulverhythe sewer.

Councillors agreed at a meeting of Full Council last night (July 13) to seek more regular public meetings with Southern Water.

The meeting saw Labour and Green party councillors vote to return the water company to public ownership, with Conservative councillors opposing.

It comes after Southern Water, which is responsible for public wastewater collection in East Sussex, West Sussex, Kent, Hampshire, and the Isle of Wight, has been criticised for releasing sewer overflows too often in the past year.

The meeting saw Labour and Green party councillors vote to return the water company to public ownership, with Conservative councillors opposing.

Southern Water was fined £90m in 2020 after pleading guilty to 51 offences related to dumping untreated sewage into the sea.

Cllr Paul Barnett (Lab), leader of the council, said: “This evening’s meeting showed that all parties in Hastings can and will work together for the good of our residents.

"Of course, we don’t agree on everything, and tonight Labour and Greens voted to return Southern Water to public ownership for example while the Conservatives opposed this. But on finance and equalities we all agreed to work together and I think that augers well for Hastings for the next year.”

Councillors also voted to work to phase out the use of fossil fuels later in the meeting.

The motion received cross-party support and encouraged other districts and boroughs within East Sussex to follow the council’s actions. It will also call on East Sussex County Council to stop investing the pension funds in fossil fuels.