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Boycott Takes off In Seaford and Lewes

The boycott movement is spreading across the south coast with Seaford and Lewes the latest Sussex towns to declare a boycott of Southern Water.


By Bob Dale BBC News, 6th August

Protesters gathered on a beach for the latest in a series of protests against sewage spills by Southern Water.

The demonstration in Seaford, East Sussex, was staged by customers who have vowed to withhold payment of their bills as part of their action.

Southern Water has been named as one of the worst performing water companies by Ofwat.

The company said it was "exploring innovative engineering and nature-based solutions" to reduce storm discharges.

Helen Frederick is one of those threatening not to pay the part of her bill covering disposal and treatment of waste water.

"We're doing this because we're not getting what we paid for," she said.

"I think we just want to bring attention to what Southern Water is doing and to highlight how vulnerable that makes us."

Ruth Rose, who set up a sea swimmers group in Seaford more than 10 years ago, also took part in the protest.

She said: "Visitors come from London, from all over, see all this and think 'should I be swimming?'

"It's deplorable really."

In 2021, Southern Water was fined a record £90m for dumping raw sewage into the sea at 17 sites, including Bosham in West Sussex.

A company spokesman said: "Storm overflows predominantly happen during and following prolonged rainfall when our sewers become overwhelmed.

"We cannot treat such large volumes quickly enough. Storm overflow releases act like a safety valve to stop homes and communities from being flooded and are made up of up to 95% rainwater.

"These releases are permitted by the Environment Agency.

"This is how the system is designed to work, but we agree that it is unacceptable.

"That's why we're exploring innovative engineering and nature-based solutions to reduce their use. It will take time and significant investment, but we are committed to this change and are keen to work closely with our community partners."

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