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MP Natalie Elphicke slammed by Deal Town Council vote on Environment Bill over raw sewage problems

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A councillor at a seaside town has criticised her MP for the way she voted over raw sewage pollution.

Natalie Elphicke, for Dover and Deal was against a plan for putting a legal duty on water firms to stop pouring the filth into rivers and seas.

Town councillors say Deal depends on a clean beach
Town councillors say Deal depends on a clean beach

Deal town councillor Christine Oliver called that decision "perverse in the extreme."

On Tuesday the council, at its full meeting, passed a motion criticising the MP's decision.

It had been put forward by the Green Mill Hill member and said: "Deal Town Council condemns in the strongest possible terms the decision by the MP for Dover and Deal to vote in favour of allowing water companies to continue to discharge raw sewage into the sea and water courses at levels above EU regulation standard.

"Given that the constituency is predominantly made up of seaside towns that rely on tourism and clean and safe beaches, her decision is perverse in the extreme."

The council will discuss the motion further at its next environment committee meeting on December 15.

Green Cllr Christine Oliver
Green Cllr Christine Oliver

Last week MPs in Parliament debated the Environment Bill.

It aims to change the law to reduce sewage entering our rivers and seas from storm overflows - by placing a range of new legal responsibilities on water companies to tackle water pollution.

The House of Lords had earlier passed an amendment to the Bill, which would see stricter action taken against water firms that dump sewage into the country's waters.

But in the Commons the Government ordered its MPs to push to remove seven specific lines from it.

These would have meant water firms had to legally "take all reasonable steps to ensure untreated sewage is not discharged from storm overflows.”

Natalie Elphicke MP. Library image
Natalie Elphicke MP. Library image

Such a move would have left the Government having to take action against those that fail to do this.

That amendment, with the seven lines removed, was voted through by 268 against 204 with Mrs Elphicke supporting the Government

The Conservative MP has since said she felt legal constraints supported by the House of Lords were "impractical."

She now said: “Stopping sewage overflows really matters to me. So I was pleased to support the strongest new environment laws to date that a Government has put forward with binding legal obligations to reduce sewage outflows.

“The Lords proposal was well-intentioned but impractical and not thought through or costed.

“I am committed to making a difference to ensure sewage flooding is addressed."

"It would most likely see residents of Deal endure more sewage flooding into homes not less, as well as thousands of pounds added to water bills too.

" It beggars belief that anyone, in Deal Town Council or otherwise, would want to see that happen.

“I am absolutely committed to making a practical difference to ensure that the sewage flooding suffered locally is addressed, by really getting to the root cause of the problems."

Mrs Elphicke said this was why she set up the Deal Flood Water Action Taskforce with Kent County Council, Dover District Council, Southern Water and the water regulator, Ofwat.

She explained this was to get proper and lasting solutions to sewage overflows in rivers, homes and seas.

Five Kent Tory MPs did defy the Government whip: Craig Mackinlay for South Thanet, Tracey Crouch (Chatham and Aylesford), Kelly Tolhurst (Rochester and Strood), Greg Clark (Tunbridge Wells) and Gordon Henderson (Sittingbourne and Sheppey).

Voting with them against removing the seven lines was Labour's Rosie Duffield for Canterbury.

Read more: All the latest news from Deal

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