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Leigh On Sea News: Westminster Report - BY Southend West MP Anna Firth.

Leigh On Sea News: Westminster Report – BY Southend West MP Anna Firth.

Westminster Report - BY Southend West MP Anna Firth.

BY Southend West MP Anna Firth.

CLEAN seas on the horizon and at our shores

Friday October 27 saw a packed public meeting held at Leigh on Sea Sailing Club.

The third of my water summits, we were pleased to hold local water company Anglian Water to account over the use of storm overflows in the Southend area.

Between January and September of this year, there has been a total of 45 spills from the 14 storm overflows in Southend West, which is completely unacceptable. I was delighted to chair a robust and lively panel, which secured incredible victories for surface water management.

The panel included Dr Robin Price, Director of Quality and Environment at Anglian Water, and 9 further representatives from the company, as well two representatives from Southend City Council and two from ECAS, who specialise in Environmental Compliance.

The meeting provided a unique opportunity for key local groups such as Southend Against Sewage, Surfers Against Sewage, The Bluetits Chill Swimmers and local councillors from all parties, to challenge Anglian Water in person about sewage discharges into the estuary.

Both Ofwat, and the Environment Agency were invited to attend, but were unable to send a representative. I am committed to re-doubling my efforts to secure their attendance at my next summit in the new year.

I am delighted that we secured yet another landmark victory from Anglian Water. Dr Price re-affirmed his comments from the previous water summit that any overflow is unacceptable and reiterated his commitment to making Southend an international exemplar for surface water management.

To this end, I am delighted that Anglian Water’s new business plan will see over £9 billion worth of investment, which will deliver 7,000 new jobs. £104 million will be funnelled directly into Southend, which is absolutely incredible news, and proves that ground-up activism is absolutely the way to go when it comes to securing progress.

We also secured a confirmation that from the 1st of January, Southend residents will be able to access near real time reporting of these incidents through Anglian Water’s website, with Dr Price being “very confident that Anglian Water will be able to report and verify spills within one hour of them happening.”

Anglian Water also committed to pilot the testing of water all year round in Southend, rather than just during the bathing season (15 May to 30 September), as it currently stands.

Anglian Water also affirmed their commitment to ending the use of storm overflows by 2030, which is wonderful news.

I am so pleased that the water summits continue to offer an outstanding forum for communication between Anglian Water and key stakeholders and activists, such as Southend Against Sewage, Bluetits Chill Swimmers and River Action. It is absolutely crucial for everyone involved to have an opportunity to discuss and correct misinformation, and to take effective action in keeping our beautiful seas and waterways clear from sewage.

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