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“We are deeply sorry” says Southern Water as they face £126m fines

The record fine has been handed to them after Ofwats invetigation found “serious failures”.

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Following the news that Water industry regulator Ofwat has fined Southern Water the record £126m fines after reportedly failures in its sewage treatment sites and for apparently misreporting its performance, the company has issued a major apology.

In their statement Southern Water say:

“We are deeply sorry for the past failures outlined in Ofwat’s Notice. Southern Water is pleased to agree with Ofwat a comprehensive agreement which encompasses penalty, reparation for customers and assured improvement. New management has worked with Ofwat closely on this issue since 2017. Today’s proposal from Ofwat includes a bill rebate to wastewater customers over the next five years totalling £123m* and a £3m fine.”

They continue:

“As previously announced, Southern Water’s wastewater treatment compliance has been under investigation by Ofwat since June 2017 due to breaches of licence conditions and statutory obligations during the period from 2010 to 2017. Southern Water began investigating issues at its wastewater treatment sites in July 2016 before alerting Ofwat to deeper issues in March 2017.

The key finding from Ofwat is that between 2010 and 2017 some of Southern Water’s waste water treatment sites were manipulated by staff to pass sampling tests they otherwise might have failed.

Southern Water has fully supported these investigations and has simultaneously completed its own extensive internal review, which highlighted failures of people, processes and systems during that period.”

Ian McAulay, Southern Water’s Chief Executive, said: “In 2017, I was brought in to drive change and transformation. Since then we have been working very hard to understand past failings and implement the changes required to ensure we better deliver for our customers and meet the standards they deserve.”

“We are deeply sorry for what has happened. There are no excuses for the failings that occurred between 2010 and 2017 outlined in Ofwat’s report. We have clearly fallen far short of the expectations and trust placed in us by our wastewater customers and the wider communities we serve.”

“We are fully committed to continuing the fast pace of change delivered since 2017. There is a lot more work to do but we’re pleased that this proposal agreed with Ofwat enables us to fully make amends to our customers and regain their trust as quickly as possible.”

Southern Water say they are substantially different today and have already made a number of fundamental improvements which they say have been recognised in the Ofwat report, including:

  • A restructure of the Executive Team and Board
  • Appointment of a new Director of Risk and Compliance to challenge front-line teams
  • Introduction of an industry-standard ‘three lines of defence’ model for regulatory reporting
  • Increased reporting to Ofwat for greater scrutiny
  • Strengthened whistle-blowing policies and appointment of an independent adjudicator so that any colleague with concerns feels confident that they will be listened to
  • Enhanced compliance across all wastewater treatment works including compulsory compliance and Code of Ethics training for all relevant colleagues
  • Refreshed company vision, values and purpose which support and align to a modern compliance framework
  • More than £100m invested in IT systems and processes and £26m invested in wastewater assets

In a very revealing and somewhat heartfelt statement they say:

“Southern Water failed its customers and is resolutely committed to the agreed package of measures agreed with Ofwat to deal with these failings and ensure that the ongoing improvements and investments we need to make are being implemented in a timely way and with the right level of assurance from our regulator. “

Southern Water say they accept the £3m penalty from Ofwat and that they will make rebates that will total £123m.

They also say that customers will received the rebate in their bills over the next five years which will amount to at least £17 per customer in 2021 and at least £11 per year for the following four years.

Southern Water was also keen to point out that customers will not bear any of the costs of the proposed fine or rebate.

They also say that a robust and challenging Action Plan has been agreed with Ofwat and is now in place to ensure the Company’s technical compliance levels meet the highest standards

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Teenage girl sexually assaulted in Tilgate, Crawley

Police are appealing for witnesses after a teenage girl was sexually assaulted in Crawley.

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The 15-year-old victim was approached by an unknown man in the car park of St Bernadette’s Church, in Tilgate Way, about 5.25pm on Thursday 11 July.

The suspect then touched her over her clothing, before making off in the direction of Tilgate Parade.

He is described as white, in his mid-20s, about 6’, of slim build, with stubble, and was wearing a red long-sleeved hoody – possibly with black writing on it – with the hood pulled tight around his face at the time of the offence.

He also wore round shaped sunglasses with a gold mirror finish, and possibly stone-coloured combat shorts with knee pockets.

Anyone who witnessed the incident or who saw a man matching the suspect’s description is asked to report it online or call 101, quoting serial 1313 of 11/07.

You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or report it online. 

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