First published in The Felixstowe Flyer, September 2020.

Labour slams poor performance of private water companies

Over 3 billion litres of water are wasted every day through leakage from pipes – with no improvement in the last 20 years. Nearly a fifth of all the water pumped through our pipes gets wasted. That’s enough to fill over 1,200 Olympic-sized swimming pools every day!

Labour believes that this is a wholly unacceptable situation. It has arisen through the Department of Food, Environment, and Rural Affairs failing to get to grips with the issues threatening supplies. The Environment Agency and the Water Industry Regulatot Ofwat also bear criticism. Large water comapnies created after privatisation in 1989 need to ensure a reliable water supply in the years ahead and to improve their efficiency.

We could all help by reducing water wastage but the water companies clearly need to be doing more. Hosepipe bans and conservation efforts are likely to ring hollow with us when many of the biggest water companies lose more on average per day in leaks than the average household actually uses in a day [sic]! Over-abstraction is also threatening Britain’s chalk streams. These chalk streams are ecologically unique to Britain, hosting wildlife found nowhere else on Earth.

PM’s vanity project wastes more taxpayers’ money

The Prime Minister ordered a repaint of the RAF’s VIP plane in red, white and blue. He believes that the grey paint is boring! However, this plane has also been used by RAF for military purposes and a former pilot has warned that it could no longer be used for such a purpose: ‘No one wants to go to war in a jet painted like a brightly coloured lollipop.’ The cost was over £900,00! When there are so many people needing support at this time – facing redundancy – businesses facing closure – councils close to bankruptcy – then surely this was the time to curb Boris’s delusions of grandeur and put those most in need as a first priority.

Scrapping free TV licence fee for over-75s is a “betrayal”

Nearly 4 million over-75s will have to pay the BBC’s £157.50 annual fee from 1 August. Only those who receive the Pension Credit benefit will be exempt. Free TV licences for the over-75s have been provided by the Government since 2000 but responsibility for the provision was passed to the BBC as part of its last licence fee settlement. The decision by the BBC hits very many of the most vulnerable in our society. The BBC said the new scheme is ‘the fairest decision’, but the Government said it was ‘the wrong decision’.

Labour’s Shadow Culture Secretary Jo Stevens said:

“The refusal of government to fund this vital service after promising to do so is nothing short of betrayal. Many over-75s have spent months at home with TV providing an invaluable source of company during the pandemic. For the Government to blame the BBC who are having to contend with huge cuts is simply passing the buck.”

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