Given the recent nationwide opinion polls I cannot help but think that some Conservative Members of Parliament in South West England must be fearing for their seats:
Call me an old cynic if you will, but I also cannot help but think that such concerns are what have prompted the journey of Rishi Sunak all the way from Westminster to this side of the River Brit.
Rishi started his whistle stop tour in the far west, making an allegedly unannounced visit to the famous Philp’s pasty shop in Hayle on Thursday. However things didn’t quite go according to the cunning plan of Rishi and his advisors:
On Friday morning Rishi was interviewed by James Churchfield on BBC Radio Cornwall. Having failed to see James’s prior invitation to submit a question in advance I belatedly enquired about sewage pollution in Cornwall on XTwitter, but in vain:
A bit later on Friday I discovered that Rishi had been running with Johnny Mercer in Plymouth early doors, so I tried my luck once again:
“No answer!” came the stern reply, and I couldn’t help but wonder what mode of transport the Prime Minister was using to apparently go back and forth across the River Tamar with such alacrity.
As you can no doubt tell by now, there have been numerous sewage pollution incidents around the coast of Devon and Cornwall over the past few days. No doubt you can also imagine my surprise when I discovered that, in the wake of the PM’s flying visit, North Devon MP Selaine Saxby had scheduled a photo opportunity at Croyde with the Minister for Water and Rural Affairs, Robbie Moore. Presumably neither of them were aware that there had been a sewage “spill” at that very spot on Thursday?
You can no doubt further imagine my shock and outrage when I subsequently discovered that Robbie had also scheduled another photo opportunity with both the Environment Agency and South West Water, this time with Truro And Falmouth MP Cherilyn Mackrory at Trevaunance Cove near St. Agnes of all places. Do you remember this incident last December by any chance?
Here’s how the Cove was portrayed on the Minister for Water’s XTwitter feed today:
“Excellent bathing waters” Robbie? Pull the other one, it’s got rusty bells on.
And what in all that’s (un)holy is a representative from the Environment Agency, the mission of which is allegedly “regulating major industry and waste”, doing cosying up to South West Water on what amounts to a party political broadcast for our current (in)glorious Government?
This all stinks worse than the copious quantities of supposedly “partially treated sewage” discharged into the Taw Estuary at Barnstaple a few days ago:
I predict a plethora of press releases from Conservative Campaign Headquarters (AKA CCHQ) next week extolling the outstanding success of South West Water in cleaning up their mess. Here is Ofwat’s most recent assessment of their performance in that regard:
A “performance” of 61.93 actual pollution incidents per 10,000 km of sewer versus an alleged “commitment” to 23.00.
Impressive stuff Robbie, n’est ce pas?[Update – February 12th]
Who could possibly have predicted it?
The Defra press release Robbie links to states that:
Water bosses are set to be banned from receiving bonuses if a company has committed serious criminal breaches, the Environment Secretary has announced today.
Ofwat will be taking forward a consultation to define the criteria for a ban. That could include successful prosecution for a Category 1 or 2 pollution incident – such as causing significant pollution at a bathing site or conservation area – or where a company has been found guilty of serious management failings.
The ban would apply to all executive board members and Chief Executives and would be expected to come into effect later this year, subject to consultation. If taken forward, Ofwat would implement the measures by changing the conditions of water company licences. For water companies in England this would be done using the powers given to the regulator through the Environment Act 2021.
Last year 10 water bosses received bonuses, totalling £2.5 million.
The measures form part of the government’s long-term strategy to tackle pollution, clean up British waters and ensure a plentiful supply for the future.
Hopefully the Xweets just above speak for themselves? If not, here is a still image from the Defra “Plan for Water” video above:
Here too is a map of the Lower Otter Estuary, recorded from South West Water’s WaterFit Live map earlier today:
[Update – February 16th]
If you are still confused by the incessant gaslighting, please do not hesitate to ask questions in the space provided for that purpose below.
There have been several items of news this morning that will not have been welcomed by Rishi Sunak. Starting (just about) here in the West Country with the Kingswood by-election result, and the Wellingborough result from further north:
Meanwhile in Westminster:
Evidently these things come in threes:
To be continued…