Socialist Worker

Criminal dumping of raw sewage in sea for profit

Issue No. 2763

Outfall from Sewage Works The large Southern Water Works on north bank of the River Medway

Outfall from Sewage Works at a Southern Water works on north bank of the River Medway (Pic: David Anstiss /Wikimedia)


Southern Water was fined a record £90 million last week for deliberately dumping billions of litres of raw sewage into protected seas over several years for its own financial gain.

Mr Justice Jeremy Johnson, sentencing the privatised water company, said it had discharged between 16 billion and 21 billion litres of raw sewage into some of the most delicate environments in Britain.

He said the company had a history of criminal activity for its “previous and persistent pollution of the environment”. It had 168 previous offences and cautions but had ignored these and not altered its behaviour.

“There is no evidence the company took any notice of the penalties imposed or the remarks of the courts. Its ­offending simply continued,” he said.

The company claimed its actions were not deliberate. But Andrew Marshall, appearing at the sentencing hearing for the regulator, said that Southern opened storm tanks to release raw sewage into coastal waters in north Kent and the Solent to increase its own financial benefits. The company also allowed storm tanks to be kept full and to turn septic, instead of putting millions of litres of raw sewage through the treatment ­process as required by law. Southern Water is owned by Jersey-based Greensands Holdings which is controlled from the Cayman Islands. The money saved by its environmental crimes was used to boost executive pay, bonuses and dividends.

It continues to provide water to 2.6 million customers and wastewater services to more than 4.7 million people across Sussex, Kent, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.


Benn gets peerage

Tony Benn, then the Labour MP for Bristol South East, had become the 2nd Viscount Stansgate on the death of his father.

It led to his automatic expulsion from the House of Commons and a ban on entering the chamber.

Only after a personal campaign to overturn a 300-year-old rule was Benn allowed to renounce his title.

But Stephen Benn, a lobbyist and the eldest of Benn’s four children, is the successful candidate in a contest to take a lifelong hereditary seat in the Lords.

In so doing, the 3rd Viscount Stansgate will assume the right to claim hundreds of pounds in tax-free allowances for attending the chamber.

He will also take his seat without any vote at all.

Some 92 hereditary peers sit. For Labour usually just three members vote on a list of candidates. They are billionaire Lord Grantchester, statistics professor Viscount Hanworth, and retired businessman Viscount Simon.

But Stansgate is the only candidate so the three didn’t bother voting.


Return of the mac

Shortly before the last general election, John McDonnell reported that he had lost his Jack Wolfskin coat. McDonnell, then shadow chancellor, had left it on a sofa in the corridor behind the Speaker’s chair before going to make a speech. But when he returned, it had vanished.

The only people he could recall seeing before going into the chamber were Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings.

Now, more than 18 months later, the mystery has been solved.

Johnson’s team wrote to McDonnell saying, “We are having a little tidy-up of the PM’s Parliamentary Office and have a coat that belongs to you.

“It has your freedom pass in the pocket.”


  • Morrisons supermarket bosses will be hoping a proposed takeover bid for the firm goes ahead. It means bumper

pay-outs for them. Chief executive David Potts would grab £19 million for the over 3 million shares he owns outright and 4.6 million that he could receive under various company reward schemes.

Operating chief Trevor Strain could make £11 million and finance boss Michael Gleeson more than £3 million.


  • The Information Commissioner’s Office has fined Leeds-based Brazier Consulting Services Ltd (BCS) £200,000 for making more than 11,489,873 unlawful calls about payment protection insurance claims. The fine amounts to just over 1.7p for each call. There is no personal penalty on directors and no prosecution of them.

Energy bills to rise to pay for new nuclear plants

You will face paying a surcharge on energy bills to pay for new nuclear power stations in Britain.

Government ministers aim to unveil legislation in the autumn that would enable Sizewell C, a £20 billion nuclear power plant, to go ahead through a financing model called the regulated asset

base.

This model would mean that energy bill payers start contributing towards the cost of the plant at Sizewell in Suffolk long before it generates any electricity.

The owners of the power station, multinational EDF, could add chunks of the value of a partly built plant to what would be its regulated asset base in stages during the construction phase.

They could then charge an agreed regulatory return on this value to British households through their energy bills.


Tory level up meant cuts for the poorest

Government promises to level up funding in education have resulted in money being shifted away from schools in the most disadvantaged areas and invested in pupils in more prosperous areas of England.

A report by the National Audit Office (NAO) found average per-pupil funding in the most deprived fifth of schools fell in real

terms by 1.2 percent between 2017-18 and 2020-21.

It increased by 2.9 percent in the least deprived fifth.

It follows the implementation of the government’s new national funding formula in 2018-19.

It introduced a minimum level of per pupil funding across England.

This triggered increased payments to schools in wealthier areas of the country while leaving schools in cities with high levels of deprivation worse off.


Things they say

‘The Royal National Lifeboat Institution has become a taxi service for illegal immigration’

Nigel Farage, former Ukip and Brexit Party leader

‘We are incredibly proud of the humanitarian work our volunteer lifeboat crews do to rescue vulnerable people in distress’

The RNLI

‘A catastrophic defeat for the West’

Sir Edward Leigh, senior Tory MP, on Britain leaving Afghanistan

‘When we get racist abuse after a football match at the end of a tournament, I expect it and it’s actually promoted by the prime minister’

Former England football player Gary Neville


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