First the claims
“I have repeatedly called on South West Water to invest in East Devon. I’m really pleased they’ve listened to the case I have put forward on the floor of Parliament and in cross-party meetings with local councils………this new multi-million-pound investment is much needed to upgrade our water infrastructure in Sidmouth and reduce nutrient pollution in Axminster. South West Water must continue to invest locally to clean up their act and our water.””
Tory Leader Cllr. Phil Skinner:
“We’ve been driving this agenda as a district and also Simon has worked really hard on it from his angle and has applied lots of pressure,” he said. “Because the sewage issue in East Devon at the moment is massive; we’ve got awful problems with sewage – particularly in areas like Clyst St Mary where we get the flooding, and particularly in and around Exmouth where we get flooding. We’ve had all sorts of issues, but other areas as well.
“So, to hear this news – the funding coming for South West Water to tidy up their act really to be fair as pollutants – is really good news for us. So all credit really all round to ourselves in East Devon in applying the pressure that we have been, and also to Simon Jupp who has particularly pressured from his angle as well.”
Now the doubt
But this is what “Squirrel” [one of Owl’s Trusted Sources] said in a comment posted on Easter Sunday:
“It would be very interesting to see a report in here about who has instigated the work on sewage spillages in Sidmouth. Simon Jupp seems very keen to suggest it has all been about him but I think we all know that isn’t true. The Sid Valley Biodiversity Group (River volunteers) backed by the town council and EDDC councillors have been pushing hard and meeting with SWW, and producing excellent data on an area where SWW data was woeful and inaccurate.
A bit of an exposé about how much money is actually going to be invested, and how much has been promised by successive environment ministers would also be interesting,
Sewage should be enough for anybody to not vote for the tories in this election. Decades of underinvestment and basically asset-stripping has left our water industry in a shameful situation and we are now literally seeing and smelling the result.”
This raises the $64,000 question, who is paying for this: SWW; the consumer or the Tax Payer?
Rob Kershaw, local democracy reporter, www.radioexe.co.uk writes:
“The government is investing in sewage works in East Devon following continued problems in the district.
South West Water (SWW), is often criticised at East Devon District Council’s planning meetings. But this week, water minister Rebecca Pow confirmed £70 million of cash to improving sewage systems in Sidmouth, Tipton St John and Axminister, as well as Falmouth in Cornwall .
East Devon’s share of the cash, part of a £1.6 billion water infrastructure investment by central government, will help prevent sewage overflows in Sidmouth and Tipton St John, as well as water pollution in Axminster.”
According to OFWAT
The immediate funding is being taken forward as part of the Ofwat/Defra “accelerated infrastructure delivery project for English Water companies” funded through the “transition expenditure process”.
Owl’s take on all this bureaucratic gobbledygook is that the accelerated costs will be financed initially by the taxpayer, with the water companies paying on the “never never” over a period ending in 2030.
The question then arises as to how the water companies levy their customers and/or shareholders to provide the payback. The only explanation Owl can find talks about setting an appropriate “time value of money” so that companies are not financially incentivised to delay making investment.
It’s all smoke and mirrors to Owl.
Is this the “bottom line”? Thérèse Coffey:
“ wider upgrades of the sewer network lead to destructive works on our streets and put hundreds of pounds on people’s bills. There’s no way we can stop pollution overnight.”
Time for Simon and Phil to come clean when making claims.