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Labour pledges to clamp down on water company bosses

HOSPITAL admissions for people contracting water-borne diseases have sky-rocketed since 2010, according to Labour analysis published today.

Cases of water borne diseases — including dysentery and Weil’s disease — have increased by nearly 60 per cent since the Tories came to power, it found.

Analysis of NHS data shows that in the last year alone 122 people were diagnosed with Weil’s disease, double the number diagnosed with the same disease in 2010.

The disease, where infected urine gets in your mouth, eyes or a cut, is usually contracted during activities such as kayaking, outdoor swimming or fishing. 

Labour’s findings come as water companies poured millions of tonnes of raw sewage into Britain’s lakes, rivers and seas.

The Environment Agency revealed that last year was the worst for sewage spills since records began. 

Sewage was discharged for a record 3.6 million hours across England in 2023.

A series of 31 discharges lasting 118 hours from one treatment plant involved 820,000 tonnes of raw sewage. 

In 2023 the number of sewage discharges rose by 54 per cent to 464,092 compared with 301,291 in 2022.

Labour has pledged to put failing water companies under tough special measures to force them to clean up their toxic mess and protect people’s health.

Action would include giving the water regulator Ofwat powers to block payment of any bonuses until bosses have cleaned up their act.

And water bosses who oversee repeated law-breaking will face criminal charges, Labour vowed.

But public ownership campaign group We Own It said: “Labour’s response to the sewage crisis is tinkering around the edges. It doesn’t tackle the fundamental problem.

“Water company bosses must work for their shareholders, the ultimate owners. 

“Their business model is to underinvest in our infrastructure so they can return a profit.

“As long as dividends are flowing out to shareholders around the world, that’s money being wasted that could be reinvested to fix leaks and stop sewage.

“England’s ideological experiment with water privatisation has been a complete failure. There is no market in water and these companies have us over a barrel.

“The Labour Party needs to recognise that the only way to protect households and our environment is to bring water into public ownership.”

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