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Boycotter Jo Bateman on This Morning sofa

On ITV morning talk show, sea swimmer Jo from Exmouth said she was boycotting her wastewater charges and taking South West Water to court for sewage dumping

It's the shocking story that's being labelled 'the new Post Office scandal'. After moving to Exmouth five years ago, Jo Bateman found that a daily dip in the sea had a transformative effect on her mental health. But after her swims started to become frequently disrupted by sewage spills, she decided to take action.

As well as suing her local water company, South West Water, she's also refused to pay part of her water bill until action is taken. And after receiving thousands of messages of support - she's joining us in the studio, and we've also sent Alice Beer to South West Water's headquarters. 

Explaining some background, consumer expert Alice Beer said, “South West Water are responsible for water and water services to some 1.8million customers across Devon, Cornwall, Isles of Scilly, some parts of Dorset and some parts of Somerset. Their coastlines and beaches became disgusting and unusable on many occasions last year, when South West Water pumped sewage directly from their pipes into the sea.”

She added, “Water companies across the country have been accused of doing this and they are allowed to do this when heavy rainfall threatens to overwhelm their systems and they have to do it to prevent flooding. But the environmental agencies last year sued South West Water for illegally doing it on so many occasions and fined them £2.15million for illegally dumping sewage into the sea causing significant environmental harm.

But what can residents of this beautiful area do, and what chance do they stand against a big company like South West Water? Well we have seen from Mr Bates vs The Post Office what one man's fight can achieve, so in Devon another David is finding her Goliath - Jo Bateman is refusing to pay her sewage part of her water bill and is taking South West Water to the small claims court and is bringing a case - so the battle of the sea starts here  - on This Morning’s sofa…”

Speaking live in the studio, Jo Bateman said, “They were fined £2.15million but they paid their shareholders £112million last year so it’s peanuts to them. I fell in love with cold water swimming, even in summer it’s never that warm but for me within a pretty short time you stop feeling that and it becomes really quite meditative, all you can think about is the water, everything else just disappears and it’s such a boost to your feel good hormones. 

“I used to swim in an area just before it enters the sea called ‘The Duck Pond’ in Exmouth and there are three outlets that can dump sewage directly into the duck pond and I didn’t know that. It was one of my favourite swimming places but I did occasionally notice, like a slick on the water and I now realise what that was, and as time went on I began to learn about what was going on. And the more I learned the worse it got. I almost wish I didn’t know because ignorance is bliss. But now I know and it's disgusting. I now don’t swim there ever because I don’t trust it to be clean, ever.”

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