At a Council Meeting on 27th June 2023, a motion was passed unanimously calling on Thames Water step up to deal with the horrendous problems they are causing residents across Reading and particularly in South Reading. You can read the full text here
If you are a resident affected by this I’d encourage you to get in touch with your local councillor so we can raise your case and also use it to inform our wider lobbying efforts, but be assured that a future Labour government will take this very seriously. The text of my speech in support of this motion is below:
Caring for our water supply should be a serious responsibility, not used as a cash machine.
Too often Thames Water have treated their custody of our water simply as a profiteering opportunity. While the national press focuses on the impact on our coastal communities we do not have to look far afield and wait for our summer holidays to see, and smell, the impact.
Others have mentioned the sewage discharge that affects rivers across our town, which particularly affects those of us in South Reading where we are fortunate to have some particularly special sides of biodiversity.
Whitley is as we all also know home to the sewage works and this modern facility was promised to be one that made the Whitley wiff simply a memory, and indeed for years this was actually the case.
However, as we know a new facility in time requires investment to keep it up to date. This is not complex but it does require a responsible organization that takes the basic care to operate as a good neighbour.
This should not be controversial. However, over the last few years our residents in South Reading have been forced to make increasing complaints due to the increasing issues relating to the operation of the sewage works. Some of this is so basic that saying they should have fixed the roof when the sun shone is not a metaphor.
I’d like to place on record the thanks of the Whitley ward councillors to the council’s environmental health team for their persistence in this, and I note that residents are continuing to use their influence as citizens on this.
I’m sorry to Cllr Robinson as I suspect he’s going to be unable to agree with me on the ultimate reason for this.
Residents and public services should not be required to cajole, persuade and negotiate. Their staff’s union should not be raising the alarm of about the consequences of under investment.
Under the current government’s at best, relaxed, approach to regulation of this key utility that is what we have to do. I would hope that the tail end of this increasingly tawdry Tory government would act and salvage some kind of legacy.
However, if they don’t residents will in the next 18 months have the opportunity to elect a government that will. The Labour party is determined to rise to this challenge and gain the trust of residents. If we succeed the owners of Thames Water should be on notice: you have been ignoring residents and your own staff, failing to invest and not facing the consequences. Step up, come and show yourselves responsible and accountable in public, and do the work. As Councillors we will press for enforcement action now and a future Labour government will in the not too distant future be forced to take action.