A few days ago two Sussex MPs raised the same theme with the same Government Minister. They are both MPs whose Constituencies have significant coastal elements but they are only two of the 11 MPs that cover the Sussex coast. These two MPs are Caroline Ansell from Eastbourne and Nick Gibb from Bognor Regis and Littlehampton. They should be working together but their questions took place in three different moments within the House of Commons, albeit on the same day. Along with Caroline and Nick, what would make stronger calls would be them working together along with the following MPs. Gillian Keegan is West of Nick, and then Peter Bottomley and Tim Loughton are on the East part of West Sussex. Peter Kyle, Caroline Lucas and Lloyd Russell-Moyle cover the whole of Brighton and Hove. Then in East Sussex there is Maria Caulfield, Huw Merriman and Sally-Ann Hart. If all 11 of these Sussex MPs were willing to work together to discuss the Sussex Coast, our community would obtain a much stronger sense of how the Government will respond and 11 MPs would make a much stronger call.
The questions from Caroline Ansell took place here and she was raising the same initial question as another MP, Anna Firth from Southend. However their initial questions were not the focus on Sussex. They both asked “What steps he is taking to support coastal communities.” Rebecca Pow answered that question and then Caroline followed it up with
Who knew we had seahorses off the coast of Eastbourne? This is my perfect moment. I thank my hon. Friend for her answer on the excellent work that is being done on water quality—that is clearly of massive significance to me—and on the coastal defence scheme; Eastbourne is set to potentially receive £100 million to protect the town for 100 years. But my question is about sewage and waste treatment. The sea, and all it affords, is our greatest visitor asset in Eastbourne and highly valued by local people. I recently met my local swimmers—a very hardy crew that includes one cross-channel swimmer. They are concerned about waste treatment because they so enjoy their swimming. What reassurance can my hon. Friend give them about the new powers in the Environment Act 2021 that will address this, but equally about Government-sponsored local action that will improve storm overflows and surface water, and help to take us from “good” to “excellent” status for our bathing water?
One of the Questions that Nick Gibb raised had a similar connection but he was speaking at a different time on the same day. His question took place here and it was
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with representatives of Southern Water on sewage discharges in West Sussex.
Nick Gibb also raised a similar theme here in a much wider question session and his question was
According to Southern Water’s own figures, between 27 December 2021 and 6 January 2022, for 236 hours untreated wastewater was discharged from the Lidsey sewage treatment plant into the Lidsey Rife en route to the sea. That is 24 hours a day for 10 consecutive days. The final draft of “The government’s strategic priorities for Ofwat” states that the Government expect water companies to
“significantly reduce the frequency and volume of sewage discharges from storm overflows.”
Can the Minister confirm—
Perhaps we could call on our Sussex MPs to work together occasionally – after all many of us work with people in Sussex and we often focus on the whole of Sussex. We need MPs to do the same.