Plans for Southern Water public meeting in Thanet postponed until bigger venue can be booked

Margate protest at Southern Water waste discharges Photo Carl Hudson

A public meeting in Thanet hosted by Southern Water has been postponed.

The meeting, to discuss Southern Water improvement plans in light of wastewater releases that shut a large number of isle beaches in June and October, was earmarked to take place on January 13.

Initially it was proposed to hold the meeting at St George’s school in Broadstairs but the school has cancelled venue bookings. It was then arranged to be held at St Peter’s hall but concerns were raised over the liited capacity with the venue only being able to hold around 75 people.

Southern Water has now postponed the gathering until a larger venue can be booked.

The meeting had been due to be attended by Southern Water CEO Ian McAulay and the firm’s Director of Environment Toby Willison along with South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay and County Councillor Karen Constantine.

Areas that were to be covered included last year’s pollution incidents and storm overflows.

A Southern Water spokesperson said: ““There is clear public demand for a meeting and we want to listen to the views of our customers. There has been significant interest in attending a meeting – far in excess of the capacity of the original venue at St Peters especially bearing in mind the need for social distancing.

“We are working with Craig Mackinlay’s office and other stakeholders in the area to find a suitable venue. We’re sorry but this means the original date of January 13 is not possible. We hope to provide details of a new venue and date as soon as possible.”

Cllr Constantine has been asking for a meeting since October following combined sewer releases and failures at Southern Water pumping stations which led to warnings to stay out of the water in June and October.

She has requested a venue in Ramsgate with a representative panel. The councillor has also requested independent testing of Thanet coastal waters and the River Stour with the findings made public.

She said: “I’m speaking on behalf of residents who are beginning to feel that Southern Water are not taking their complaints and concerns seriously enough. Questions have been raised repeatedly and requests for water monitoring have been put to Southern Water several times. Frustration at the lack of progress is now building.

“I’d to urge Southern Water to see this public consultation as an opportunity for genuine community engagement. At the moment I’m not getting a positive impression of their commitment to sorting this situation out. They need to step up.”

In June advice was issued against swimming at 11 Thanet beaches after a wastewater release from the Foreness pumping station. There have also been numerous combined sewer outflows affecting water quality.

In October warnings were issued for 14 beaches and bays and stayed in place for nine days at 13 sites and an extra two days at Joss Bay following a discharge from the Broadstairs pumping station.

In September Southern Water agreed to commission a full drainage survey of Margate and the surrounding areas in order to improve resilience of Foreness Point pumping station. The survey, estimated to come at a cost of some £400,000, will record all of the water pathways that contribute surface water and rain water to the drainage system. It will also assess the amount of water which is added to the system during storm periods.

The aim is to reduce runoff reaching the treatment works and reduce the risk of emergency spills.

It has also been agreed to implement a number of action points previously drawn up during a meeting between Margate councillor Rob Yates, representatives of natural beauty business Haeckels and Walpole Bay Swimmers and Environment Agency senior officer Peter Ehmann.

Cllr Yates said there would be a bathing water task force and he revealed the Environment Agency is planning to test water quality in the Walpole Bay tidal pool directly for next year, rather than tests being carried out further to the west.

In November Southern Water said it was launching a task force with the aim to cut storm overflows by 80 per cent by 2030.


  1. How about the managers Holding a Zoom meeting with the whole of the South East with them broadcasting from the Goodwin Sands. A boat and life jackets will be provided by passing illegal immigrants.

  2. Have they also postponed their eye-watering salaries and bonuses until they can do their jobs properly?

  3. Why can’t they hire the Saga building for a one off now the NHS vaccination service is moving to the old Curry’s shop at WWX? They would be able to get thousands in there.

  4. Exactly what is the point of the meeting, other than an opportunity for people to shout at the CEO of SW?
    Everyone knows what should be done:
    Spend loads of money on sewerage infrastructure in the short term, and bring major national infrastructures back into public ownership- something which the current Labour Opposition seems loathe to do.

  5. Margate Winter Gardens is just sat there!

    I’m sure if you contact them they can work something out! As mentioned already the old saga building is free! Dreamland is another potential venue! Perhaps Southern Water are just hoping this goes away! It won’t!

    There’s plenty of venues it should take too long to rebook?

  6. they will do what boris and dear little andrew have done , just keep out of the way and hope it blows over , or blame someone else.

    • When you attend this meeting (should it ever happen) what outcome would you like to see, dear, and how would your attendance at the meeting effect that?

  7. There is only one thing needing discussion and that is get this Tory government to re-nationlise water, so it serves the people, and NOT share holders!

    • It has always seemed absurd to me that fundamentally important national infrastructures such as power, water, railways were ever given away to private enterprise. The first duty of a nationalised organisation is to serve the people who pay for it. The first duty of a commercial organisation is to make money for its shareholders.

  8. Ditto that Andrew, I worked for a nationlised industry, and there was always a spirit of public service, often working longer hours than were paid for! However, one problem was that many nationlised industries were profitable, but the profit wasn’t re-invested back into the industry! This was a Thatcher/Tory ploy to privatise them, which was totally spurious!

  9. Are they going to advertise when the next meeting is? I did not know about this one until reading this news item.

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