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Labour pledges to put water companies under “special measures” as over 10,000 hospitalised for waterborne diseases under Tory rule

Image from Stephen Morgan

Stephen Morgan has pledged that Labour will put water companies under “special measures” to force them to clean up their toxic filth.

Mr Morgan, Labour’s candidate for Portsmouth South, made the comments as research showed the number of people admitted to hospital for water-borne diseases has skyrocketed under Tory rule as record levels of sewage pollute Britain’s rivers, lakes and seas.

Stephen Morgan has a long track record of campaigning to stop the sewage: lobbying Ministers, finding solutions with experts, speaking up for constituents in parliament, holding the government to account and voting for change

Since 2019, more than 10,000 people have been hospitalised in Britain due to water-borne diseases, with hospitalisations increasing at an unprecedented rate.

The new analysis of NHS data by the Labour Party casts further scrutiny on the Conservatives management of the water industry and follows several areas of the UK being told not to drink tap water after parasite outbreaks.

Over the last two years, the number of people diagnosed in hospital with common diseases that can be transmitted via water-borne infection has nearly doubled, with 3,261 cases recorded 2022-2023, the highest number since comparable records began.

The biggest year on year rise was recorded for Typhoid Fever, a condition that the NHS classifies as more common in parts of the world that have poor sanitation and limited access to clean water. 603 cases of typhoid fever were recorded last year, a figure that has more than doubled since 2022.

This comes as the latest Environment Agency data found that last year was the worst for sewage spills since records began. Sewage was discharged for an eye watering record 4 million hours across England in 2023. The number of sewage discharges has skyrocketed by 58%, from over 477,000 sewage spills in 2023, compared to 301,091 in 2022. 

Labour has set out detailed plans to put failing water companies under “special measures” to force them to clean up their toxic filth. In government it will:

  • Give the water regulator powers to block the payment of any bonuses to polluting water bosses until they have cleaned up their filth.
  • Make water bosses who continue to oversee law-breaking face criminal charges.
  • End self-monitoring and force all companies to accept independent monitoring of every single water outlet so companies can no longer cover up illegal sewage dumping.
  • Introduce severe and automatic fines that water companies can’t afford to ignore for illegal sewage discharges.
  • Strengthen the regulator’s powers and make financial stability and infrastructure investment a priority.
  • Ban on the sale, supply and manufacture of plastic wet wipes that clog up our sewers.
  • Create nine new National River Walks in England opening up hundreds of miles of our most iconic rivers for families and the public to enjoy.

Commenting, Labour candidate for Portsmouth South Stephen Morgan said:

“This is just the latest example of awful impact of the Tory sewage scandal taking its toll on Portsmouth and local people.

“Not only is it causing untold harm to our natural environment, but it is also putting thousands of people across the country in hospital with waterborne diseases.

“Only Labour has a serious plan to tackle this national scandal. This plan includes putting water companies under special measures to force them to clean up their toxic filth once and for all.”

Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary, Steve Reed, said: 

“It is sickening that the Conservative Sewage scandal has put over ten thousand people in hospital. 

“They just folded their arms and looked the other way while water companies pumped a tidal wave of raw sewage into our rivers, lakes and seas putting the nation’s health at risk. 

“It is time for change. The next Labour government will put the water companies under special measures and strengthen regulation to force them to clean up their act. 

“We will give the regulator tough new powers to make law-breaking water bosses face criminal charges and ban the payment of their multi-million pound bonuses until they clean up their toxic filth.” 

Leading figures from across business, nature organisations and sewage campaigns, responding to Labour’s plan to put failing water companies under tough special measures to force them to clean up our waterways. 

Feargal Sharkey, environmental campaigner and artist, said:

“Under the Tories, we are witnessing an unprecedented attack on our environment, with record levels of sewage dumping into our rivers. After years of inaction, it’s time for change with a Labour government. That is why I am backing Labour’s plans to put the water companies under special measures.”

Richard Walker, businessman and former Chair of Surfers Against Sewage, said:  

“The way the Tories have allowed our coasts, rivers, and streams to become engorged with excrement is the perfect metaphor for the way they’ve treated the country these past 14 years. Labour’s plan will take the tough action required to get our vital utilities back to serving the public interest. Everyone deserves to enjoy our beautiful coastline and rivers without the fear of getting sick because some fat cat has been shovelling out dividends rather than investing in vital improvements.”

Alastair Chisholm, Director of Policy, The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, said:

“Our research shows 86 percent of the public want water reformed under the next government. Our river crisis is impacting not only the health of nature but it’s making people sick too. That has to change. We need urgent reform.”

Stephen Morgan has tirelessly campaigned to stop the Tory sewage scandal including by launching a petition to stop the sewage. You can sign the pledge here: