The Daily Telegraph

Bill boycotters at Southern Water to face debt collectors


SOUTHERN Water has threatened to use debt collectors to pursue customers refusing to pay in protest against the company’s sewage pollution.

The company, which has one of the worst records for sewage discharges, has told customers that are refusing to pay it will pass the cases to its debt collection team, which could incur fees and affect credit ratings, according to The Guardian.

A non-payment campaign was started last year by residents in Whitstable in Kent, where raw sewage discharges have forced beaches to close. It won the support of singer Bob Geldof, who lives in nearby Faversham.

Southern told its non-paying customers that its “complaints procedure has been exhausted in relation to storm overflows”, according to The Guardian.

Southern Water was named alongside South West Water as one of the worst polluting companies in England in a recent report from the Environmen­t Agency, which gave them both a one star rating and said they were “terrible across the board”.

The company was handed a record £90m fine last year for illegal discharges of sewage into rivers and coastal waters in Kent, Hampshire and Sussex. Sewage releases last month along the East Sussex coastline forced the closure of several beaches.

Southern Water said: “We are determined to deliver environmen­tal and operationa­l improvemen­ts for our customers and have committed to spend £2billion between 2020 and 2025 to achieve this. The bills customers pay us are crucial for us to be able to make the investment­s we need to deliver these improvemen­ts as well as boost local economies.

“Every penny of profit is being reinvested into the business to improve performanc­e. For customers who are unwilling to pay, we will have no option but to pursue the debts incurred…. This decision of last resort is not taken lightly.”

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