This week it was announced that pay packages for top executives in the water industry rose on average 20 per cent last year. The four senior executives of Thames Water, for example, shared £3.24 million between them. You might think that rewards of this size were in return for outstanding work or service on behalf of the company they lead but this is far from the truth because last year there were more than 370,000 sewage spills from storm overflows in England. Yes, that’s right, they are contaminating our rivers and beaches and yet are still being paid huge amounts of money! To make matters worse some of the water companies have lobbied the Government to weaken further the existing inadequate legislation. It seems to me that we should be strengthening the laws and holding companies to account, not weakening them.

Why are the companies acting in this way? The answer is fairly clear given that last year they paid dividends to their parent companies of £1.1 billion, up 18 per cent on the previous 12 months.

Meanwhile back in the real world food inflation is currently at 17 per cent and most of us have to think very carefully about what to buy in the supermarket.

Surely it’s not too much to ask that the Government take steps to ensure that no dividends should be payable to shareholders unless they have taken demonstrable steps to reduce the damage they are causing. I would be very interested in the views of our local MPs Dean Russell (Watford) and Gagan Mohindra (SW Herts) because both presumably think of themselves as ‘friends of the environment’.

Philip Parry

South-West Herts Labour Party

Letter to Watford Observer 4th February 2023
Letter to Watford Observer 4th February 2023
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