No hosepipe ban at No 10, as ministers call for water restrictions

“While people all over the country were following the rules during Covid, you were partying in Downing Street. Now, while millions do the right thing and reduce their water use, can you confirm whether you will commit to doing so at Chequers? Will you rule out using hosepipes and stop refilling your private pool?

“It would stink of hypocrisy if you continue to maintain a private pool while gardens dry up, paddling pools remain empty and farmers are unable to water their crops.” – Tim Farron

Restrictions are only for the little people and bonuses for Water Execs. – Owl

Helena Horton www.theguardian.com 

Downing Street has no plan to put a hosepipe ban in place in and around the prime minister’s residence, the Guardian can reveal, despite ministers calling for water companies to enforce restrictions.

Thames Water, which supplies No 10, said on Tuesday it would be putting water rationing in place in the coming weeks due to the extended dry conditions.

When asked whether hosepipes would still be used in the No 10 garden, or to wash the cars used to ferry its residents around, a spokesperson for the prime minister said a ban was not currently in place, though they added that the household was “taking steps to reduce the water used across the Downing Street site”. This did not include a hosepipe ban, though, they said.

Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrats’ spokesperson on environment and rural affairs, has called for Boris Johnson to set an example to the rest of the country by reducing his water usage and draining the swimming pool at his countryside residence, Chequers, which is also supplied by Thames Water.

The spokesperson declined to comment on whether the pool would be drained, saying it was a matter for the Chequers Trust. However, the prime minister is in control of matters at Chequers, and Margaret Thatcher famously stopped heating the pool during an energy crisis that took place when she was prime minister.

In a letter to Johnson, Farron said: “Your grace-and-favour mansion, Chequers, is located in an area which will be subject to a hosepipe ban. At this moment when millions of people across the country are making sacrifices, it is vital that you show leadership.

“While people all over the country were following the rules during Covid, you were partying in Downing Street. Now, while millions do the right thing and reduce their water use, can you confirm whether you will commit to doing so at Chequers? Will you rule out using hosepipes and stop refilling your private pool?

“It would stink of hypocrisy if you continue to maintain a private pool while gardens dry up, paddling pools remain empty and farmers are unable to water their crops.”

The whole country is readying for water restrictions during the record-breaking dry weather, with some areas not seeing significant rainfall since June.

Leaked documents seen by the Guardian this week show that water companies serving areas from Yorkshire to Dorset have applied for drought permits, which would allow them to put bans in place.

At the weekend, the environment secretary, George Eustice urged water companies to put restrictions in place. On Wednesday, Eustice said he met the chief executives of water companies to discuss the measures being put in place to combat water shortages.

The National Drought Group, which would decide whether there is an official drought, meets on Friday.

Val Ranger, voluntary worker, teacher and Local Independent Councillor

It is with a sad and heavy heart that we have to announce that Val passed away on Tuesday 2nd August 2022. Val fought this awful disease with such courage and determination. She was an inspiration to us all. With a constant smile on her face to the end and a determination to never give up, we have much to learn from her life, values and spirit. A truly inspiring and loving person who will be so missed, she made our community a better place to live. We will never forget her.

Thank you to all of you who supported this appeal and gave Val precious time and hope.

Lesley Woolley and Liz Dowen

From www.gofundme.com

About Val

Val lived in Sidbury for a year in 1992 and did some voluntary work for WWII vets who were being denied disability benefits from injury sustained in the war effort. She moved to Harpford in 1993 and shortly after joined the Rainbow Playgroup committee as her boys attended there. She later joined NP school PTFA and became a school governor. She was also involved in admin for the Saturday sports club and became Treasurer of Sidmouth College PTFA. Around 2013 Val became interested in EDDC matters when it was proposed to move the council from the Knowle to new premises in Honiton. She also began to follow local development and was shocked by some of the tactics used by developers and what she saw as a very biased system, with promises made and broken, and different rules applied to different applicants. She joined the parish council in 2014 and subsequently ran as an independent councillor for EDDC in 2015 and was elected with a clear majority. She was re-elected in 2019 and has remained in post since then, now as Vice-Chariman of the Council. She became part of the Democratic Alliance which is a collaboration between independent councillors, Liberal democrats and Green candidates in a bid to put politics aside and work on behalf of residents regardless of their political alliance. Along the way she was involved in ensuring Harpford Hall was retained as a community asset, and has campaigned for the retention of the red bridge over the River Otter to ensure residents have a safe walking route to and from Newton Poppleford and Tipton, as well as safety improvement measures on Four Elms Hill which should finally complete in July.

Val taught at Exeter College from 1993 until going on sick leave in November 2020, mainly working with Access to Higher Education students across a range of pathways; these are mature students seeking a career change and access to university. She also taught first aid courses locally and shorthand to local newspaper reporters.

Her sons live and work locally and are a great support. Friends have been been amazing, accompanying her for treatment both locally and in London, providing food, hugs, mopping up tears, clearing up the house and garden, doing medical research on her behalf, walking and talking and ensuring there is still time for laughter.

A wonderful and inspiring person – Owl

Experts fear areas will be wiped off map as cliffs erode

The country is in the midst of yet another heatwave with temperatures set to hit the mid 30s this week as concerns surrounding global warming continue to grow. The fears have been heightened as large parts of the Jurassic coastline in Devon have plunged into the sea.

Alex Whilding www.devonlive.com 

It is likely that the warm weather is making the cliff fall and as a result cracks will form and then widen in the rocks. On Monday (August 8), walkers along the Sidmouth coastline watched in horror as part of the coastline hit the beach.

Witnesses in the area have said that several hours later, parts of the cliff were still falling into the sea. It was only last month that two more dramatic collapses took place at the same spot as the country basked in record breaking temperatures, reports The Mirror.

Experts say global warming is causing sea levels to rise and that is eroding a lot of the Jurassic coastline in Dorset. The coastline suffered its biggest rock fall in over 60 years in 2021.

Back then, around 300 metres of the cliff face was impacted when 4,000 tonnes came away and fell towards the beach in chunks with some of them the size of a car. This ongoing issue could see some homes completely wiped away.

Angela Terry, an environmental scientist and founder of One Home, warned: “Coastal communities are on the front line of climate change with little support available for those who face losing their homes or livelihoods. As we overheat, ice is melting faster and as a consequence sea levels are increasing by up to 5mm a year.

“More concerning is this rate continues to increase and we can not hold back the tide. Along with stronger winds, super storms are regularly battering British cliffs which are then falling into the sea as a result.

“With Europe’s longest coastline, we urgently need to start talking about how we will drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions and aid communities to transition to safer areas before their homes literally hang over a cliff edge.”

East Beach in Sidmouth where there was a dramatic cliff fall on Monday

East Beach in Sidmouth where there was a dramatic cliff fall on Monday (Image: Adam Gerrard / Daily Mirror)

In its latest report, the Environment Agency has warned that by 2050 around 200,000 properties could be swallowed by floodwater or even plunge over a cliff.

Meanwhile, a study conducted by the Ocean and Coastal Management has found that a third of the country’s coastline will be under pressure as a result of the change in the sea levels. Paul Griew, who lives on Cliff Road in Sidmouth, lost his summerhouse back in 2017.

Paul was about to collect something from the summerhouse when it collapsed into the sea. Paul’s neighbour has lived in their house for 25 year and claimed that he lost 20 metres of his garden.

He added that he knew the cliffs were eroding when he moved in with his wife, but he said “it’s happening faster than I thought”. He added that the offshore sea defence islands for Sidmouth were causing the erosion at first, but the sea getting warmer and the rising sea levels are speeding up the process.

Britain’s crises have one thing in common: a failure to invest 

An obsession with efficiency has meant infrastructure has been run into the ground rather than upgraded. Cost-cutting has been given a higher priority than capacity building.

Owl prefers to call it by another term: “short term asset stripping”.

Larry Elliott www.theguardian.com 

The government is drawing up contingency plans for power cuts this winter as it finally wakes up to the reality of what the next few months will bring.

Britain has a cost of living crisis. It also has a housing crisis and an energy crisis. Weeks without rain in southern England mean there is a looming drought crisis. The NHS is only one serious Covid-19 outbreak away from crunch point.

These crises are all distinct and special in their own way but they also have a common theme: a failure to invest stretching back decades. An obsession with efficiency has meant infrastructure has been run into the ground rather than upgraded. Cost-cutting has been given a higher priority than capacity building.

Take the NHS. International comparisons show Britain has one of the lowest number of hospital beds for each head of population of any western country, a smaller number of intensive care beds, and one of the highest bed occupancy rates. Problems with this seat-of-the-pants approach were brutally exposed by the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020.

Or take water. Since 1990 the population of the UK has risen by about 10 million to 67 million but not a single new reservoir has been built in the past three decades. More than 200,000 miles of water pipes date back to Victorian times yet the water companies are replacing them at a rate of 0.05% a year. That compares with a European average of 0.5%.

Then there’s the state of the country’s housing stock. A report by the energy firm EDF found almost 60% of 21m homes in England and Wales only met insulation standards of the mid-1970s or earlier – costing households up to £930 a year in higher energy bills.

In the early 1970s, the lights went out when the miners went on strike. If they go out again this winter it will be because there is not enough domestic capacity and supplies of imported energy are insufficient to meet demand.

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Britain is, of course, not the only country facing the possibility of energy shortages. Germany, for example, is much more heavily exposed to the whims of Vladimir Putin. Even so, there is a pattern here – one in which a misguided belief that everything will turn out well in the end has taken the place of long-term planning and strategic investment.

Let’s be clear, this is not only a government problem. Britain has the lowest rate of business investment of any G7 country and one reason for that is the private sector has tended to prefer dividend payouts and share buy-backs to higher spending on new kit.

Muddling through is the country’s default setting. The lack of any real slack in the system only really become apparent in times of national emergency. Like now, for instance.