Last night’s full council had a large portion of the agenda taken by the important discussion about the future of the Central Club site. The stand out speech of the night was Cllr Sophia James responding to the petition, you can read her speech here but I would recommend watching it on the webcast.
The Conservative contribution to the debate was to say nothing.
Later in the evening I was proud to second Cllr Debs Absolom in her call for Thames Water to listen to and communicate better with residents and the council. Again the Conservatives revealed themselves.
They said nothing and abstained.
Full council is an opportunity for serious debate but it is also an opportunity to understand and elaborate the views of our opponents. Last night we discovered that Conservative councillors cannot even bring themselves to vote asking a privatised utility company to communicate with residents. No wonder most people in this country want our vital water industry back in public hands. No wonder the Conservatives are losing the trust of our residents.
They have nothing to say and no action they would take help make our town and our country better for all our communities.
My speech is here or on the webcast
I am delighted that Cllr Debs Absolom raised this and I know that doing this publicly is the end of a long line of attempts to improve communication.
We all face issues like this in our wards. The lack of public engagement from Thames Water is a running joke. Residents in Whitley respond to news about a road resurfacing with ‘Oh expect Thames Water will be along next week then,
It is vital that our utilities, including water need to be publicly accountable and aware of their wider impact. Councillor Absolom has well outlined the state of this monoplist industry, and of course only Labour has a real plan to ensure this is resolved.
Which is why I would urge Thames Water to engage with this authority.
When the next Labour government brings them back into public ownership they will need to do this better anyway [at this point the Conservatives couldn’t resist heckling).
Of course public ownership would be a sound financial investment – indeed Thames Water is already partially state owned, although I admit that is by the Kuwaiti government. But if it is good enough for them it is good enough for us.
But regional publicly owned water companies will create the will for real clear and transparent accountability. I have found one council happy with their relationship with Thames Water. Admittedly, it is just one. However I have been told by the network manager of Hounslow that Thames water communicates and plans their works in partnership with them. I doubt that a single other council in the Thames Water region can say that.
So my message to Thames Water is this – if you can do it for Hounslow, do it elsewhere and start with Reading.
After all you will need to do it anyway when your shareholders are us, the citizens of this country.