Tuesday, 14 March 2023

Happy to swim in raw sewage - Matthew Offord MP replies to our concerns about water quality in local streams

On the 9th January 2023, I sent an open letter to Matthew Offord MP, concerning water quality, following highly worrying reports in the media about water quality in Barnet.

I am pleased to report that Dr Offord has finally responded. Here is his repsonse. I really suggest you read it. It is, perhaps, the most interesting reply I've ever had from an MP (click on the image for a more readable version).

So lets see what he has to say for himself. Dr Offord swims in the Thames, sails on the Welsh Harp and Scuba dives off the South Coast. The problems with dumping of sewage are a passion of his. Dr Offord admits that one outlet is discharging into the Welsh Harp a nature reserve, where he sails. When Dr Offord says that he has a passion for dealing with the problems, I can only conclude that his idea of being passionate and mine are rather different. My version of passion is to get up and put every ounce of energy I have into what I am passionate about, until the deed is done and done properly. I suspect that Dr Offords idea of being passionate is to lie in bed thinking about it, vigorously. I do respect the fact that at one stage he voted against the government, but he acquisced and voted to allow the disgusting practice to continue.

Some things should be immediately changed, or at the very least as quickly as possible. A situation where swimmers, divers and sailors are put at risk, simply because they want to indulge in healthy outdoor pursuits is completely unacceptable. 

The net result of Mr Offord and his Conservative colleagues voting for the government measure is that he will be swimming, diving and sailing sewage for the next fifteen years, he may be happy with that, but I am not. 

Mr Offord is one of 292 Tory MP's who think that is OK. 

Here is my original email to Dr Offord.

Dear Dr Offord

I am writing to you to ask your views on the high level of sewage in local waterways and what action you will be taking to address this. Like yourself, I am a dog lover and a dog owner and I have become increasingly concerned about the levels of sewage, bacteria and other contaminents in the local waterways. There have been several reports of dogs becoming ill following exposure to water contamination in local streams. A local stream in the Borough of Barnet was featured on the BBC News last week. I have seen first hand sewage contamination in folly brook in Mill Hill and there have also been concerns about discharges into the Silk Stream and other streams feeding into the Welsh Harp. Many of these pass through areas where both dogs and children exercise.

My personal view is that the way to resolve this is to have far steeper penalties for water companies discharging sewage into local waterways, which act as a punitive deterrent. There should also be strong powers to deal with misconnections. Home owners employing cowboy building firms deliberately misconnecting to save costs should be liable for punitive fines to facilitate the costs of cleanup as a deterrent. I would personally like to see a clean water bill brought forward, with households given a six month amnesty to resolve issues and then heavy fines. I would recommend that a proper inspectorate of water quality are set up, who have enforcement powers and statuatory targets to deliver. The current system simply isn't working.

I would be interested to know your views on this matter


Roger Tichborne 

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