Eastbourne and Willingdon MP Caroline Ansell has hosted a Southern Water parliamentary drop-in for MPs across the South East to come and meet with the utility’s top management.

Southern Water’s chief executive Lawrence Godson spoke with MPs about the company’s £7.8 billion five-year investment plan to improve and upgrade the water network, nature-based solutions to reduce storm overflows and the support with bills they can offer to vulnerable customers.

The MP heard from Lawrence about the work Southern Water is doing specifically in Eastbourne to improve water quality, including fixing illegal, misconnected drains connected to the surface water system.

She was also able to raise several specific, local questions.

Caroline was pleased to learn that the ‘citizen science’ water testing equipment the MP had secured for local sea swimmers was ready for delivery.

And while many swimmers actively engaged with an online app to learn about water quality, the MP again pushed for a physical information system on the beach. This was agreed so all could enjoy the water with confidence. The MP undertook to connect stakeholders, the Environment Agency, East Sussex County Council and Eastbourne Borough Council to progress the plan.

“This was another important opportunity for me and others to engage with the top team at Southern Water,” said Caroline.

“As well as securing new local investment, the event also provided a good opportunity for me to see how I might be able to help Southern Water reach residents who would be eligible for the social tariff it offers to low-income households.

“There’s a place for challenge – and I do – but all parties working together is how we’ll get results that count.”

The MP added: “Recognition where it’s due too. Southern Water’s misconnections team is doing good work in our town finding quite a few pipes that were wrongly and illegally connected to surface water drainage and not the sewers.”

“This is a major problem and tackling it will lead to higher water quality.”

“Anyone who looks at this issue carefully knows it is a complex one. Southern has a major role to play in improving the quality of our seawater but it is not the only one.”