Campaigner Feargal Sharkey and 38 Degrees ‘poo’ ice cream van visit Thanet to highlight water pollution

Feargal Sharkey met with local Labour members and Parliamentary candidate Polly Billington

Former punk band frontman turned environmentalist Feargal Sharkey has visited Thanet as part of his ‘Stop the Sh*t Show’ tour to highlight UK water pollution

Feargal, who is President of Labour’s Environment Campaign SERA, came to Margate on June 15 and met Labour election candidate for East Thanet Polly Billington and candidate for Herne Bay and Sandwich, Helen Whitehead, local Labour campaigners and the public to highlight pollution in Walpole bay.

Feargal listened and spoke to business owners about their concerns that continued sewage water dumping will have a long term impact on Thanet’s multi million pound tourism economy unless it is successfully tackled.

He said: “The situation regarding our water industry is simply scandalous and must be addressed. There is no excuse. The powers are there to clamp down on the bosses. They are not being used and the companies are getting away with neglect on an epic scale. This pollution requires political will to fix it.”

Feargal met business people from Margate including Katy Lassen from Harbour and Tide, Annie Godsman from the Fort Hotel, Lee Coad from Angela’s and Dory’s restaurants and Sarah Hakewill who runs @seaofpurpose.

Katy said. “Businesses like ours rely on people feeling safe so they can enjoy the sea. Having to check if there has been a raw sewage dump before going in really hampers people’s experience.

“And for those of us whose businesses are built around the seaside we all love, this could have serious long term effects. It’s pretty basic, to keep the sea clean. We need the water industry sorted out, and I want an MP who will make that happen.”

Polly Billington says she is committed to tackling the sewage scandal as an economic as well as a health and environmental threat.

She said: “For a community made up of three seaside resorts the impact of the sewage scandal on our economy is real. As one business owner said to me “No one wants to kayak through crap” and fear of ill health risks reducing people’s willingness to holiday and enjoy our wonderful coastline.

“The impact on the environment is not in question and the risks to our health are clear, as surfers against sewage report the number of illnesses linked to sewage dumping.

“Businesses can feel its impact too and the long term effects on our economy could be serious. The latest figures indicate we have a £220 million tourism industry in Thanet (2022). This is why tackling this scandal will be a priority, not just for me if elected as the local MP, but for the Labour government.

“Labour will make the water industry bosses face criminal charges if they fail to stop the dumping, block their bonuses until they clean up their filth and impose fines they cannot ignore.

“For too long the Tories have behaved as if this is nothing to do with them and ignored the economic risks to coastal communities of this scandal. Doing nothing doesn’t cost nothing. Businesses here in Thanet are paying the price of conservative failures on sewage.”

38 Degrees ice cream van visits Margate branded with sewage themed designs

The campaign against sewage releases into UK seas and rivers was also highlighted this week during a visit by 38 Degrees campaigners.

On Monday (June 17) Margate residents were offered a sweet treat with a twist, as ‘sewage sundaes’ were handed out around Margate’s harbour.
The tongue-in-cheek stunt was carried out to highlight the dumping of raw sewage across our coastline.

During 38 Degrees’ sewage ice cream van’s tour of the South coast of England campaigners have visited seaside towns like Brighton and Eastbourne, with hundreds of free ice creams handed out, and people who care about their coastline invited to join the campaign to end sewage in our seas.

More than 56,000 people have now signed the petition, addressed to whoever forms the next Government, which demands real accountability for polluting water companies and an end to sewage in our seas.

38 Degrees ice cream van visits Margate branded with sewage themed designs

Matthew McGregor, CEO at 38 Degrees, said: “ The Great British seaside is quintessential for a reason, and there should be nothing better than a day out on the beach. But thanks to failures of regulation and water companies literally taking the p**s, beautiful beaches across the country, in places like Margate, are being splattered with sewage, day after day.

“To make plain to political leaders in this election the scale of the mess we’re in, we thought we’d take the next step – transforming the classic seaside ice cream cone into sewage sundaes.

“Luckily, unlike the South East’s beautiful coastline, our ice creams didn’t actually contain any effluent. But if politicians are anything like as disgusted by the sound of the ‘scummy sewage sorbet’ or the ‘sludge sundae’ as the public in Margate were, it’s time for them to pledge to hold polluting water companies to account.

“With the general election campaign in full swing, anyone who wants to win voters’ support must promise real accountability for any water company that treats our beaches like their own personal toilet, while leaving their shareholders flush with cash.

“The next Government should fine failing water companies by taking shares, not just their bonuses or profits, to give us, the public, a real say in their decision – and if they still can’t clean up their act, they must agree to renationalise these firms and their profits.”

According to Southern Water’s Rivers and Sea Watch data Walpole had one release for 2024 in February and there was another at St Mildred’s in May.


    • I would just like to add that I don’t believe this comment received anywhere near the level of recognition it deserved.
      Bravo sir.

  1. Why is Polly “Parachute Woman” Billington in the middle of the photo, with Helen Whitehead shoved on the end? Surely it would look far better for both of them if they were seen together.

    • That’s the important thing here, isn’t it pinkie, stand in the right place for the photos, not the subject matter. That’s why your so easily fooled by Gale and co, shallow.

    • It’s because Labour know they have no chance in the constituency, Sandwich and most of the Thanet villages. Polly, the parachutist extrodinaire, has top billing. Any photo opp is her desire, but no public appearances like hustings where her views would be questioned.

  2. Neh, neh, neh neh neh, I would prefer a person deserves to win an election from actions, credibility, honesty, hard work, not gimmicks like the lib dem leader, or smiles with no substance like all tories.

    • Having two local Labour candidates standing next to each other could hardly be called a “gimmick”… perhaps their gimmick is standing apart?

  3. Great to meet Feargal and what a lovely bloke.
    Really special for Polly to get his endorsement too!
    If all goes well on 4 July – East Thanet will have a very strong MP fighting on our behalf.
    Vote Labour!

      • She did indeed!
        She was also treated to a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ from Feargal too which was rather lovely!
        I’m very focused on East Thanet but Herne Bay & Sandwich will also be getting a wonderfully hardworking MP if Helen Whitehead is elected in July!
        It’d be TDC’s loss – but it’d be a price worth paying to see her in Westminster!

    • Cllr Bright. The below was reported here on 9th May.
      “Thanet council leader Cllr Rick Everitt has appointed a new Cabinet member to focus solely on parking issues in the district.”

      “Viking ward Labour councillor Kristian Bright has been appointed for the role meaning Thanet council now has seven Cabinet members.”

      The photo of the ice cream van clearly shows it parked on double yellow lines.
      I don’t know the exact restrictions on this road. Could you explain what they are and if any permission was given to allow this and if not what you intend to do about as your “sole focus” is on parking issues.

  4. It’s sad that PollyB and her Labour campaign continue to hi-jack events that are not party political.
    Fergal has thrown his lot in with Lab on cleaning up the water business and I wish him all the luck in the world.
    But PollyB turns up for the photo then goes back to Hackney.
    Just like the last paddling out protest where she had a photo holding a paddle board, not her of course, just borrowed from an actual boarder.
    And, it’s an offense that Polly parachutes in for this but can’t turn up for candidate hustings.
    And IoTN seems to be going along with this, profiling Polly disproportionately.

    • Erm…this event was explicitly arranged to support Polly and Helen’s campaigns.
      And for Polly NOT to have turned up at the paddle out – when cleaning up our waters is central to her local pledges – would’ve been absolutely bonkers wouldn’t it.

      • I understood this event was by 38 Degrees, not the Labour Pty. It’s great that any political party would support the campaign but the IoTN article misrepresents the event by implying only Labour turned out.

      • Dear Peter, If this was a Q to me I don’t hate Labour. I dislike the popularist politics where local and national issues of great importance are ignored or fudged.
        It’s sad (or worse) that PollyB is running her campaign like this.

        • We are massively impacted by the pollution of our waters. It affects not just our health but our economy.
          Polly is standing to be our MP and wants to represent our best interests – of COURSE she will be campaigning on holding water companies to account.
          Feargal Sharkey came to East Thanet as a Labour supporter to endorse Polly for East Thanet and Helen for Herne Bay & Sandwich.
          The 38 Degree event had no connection to the Labour Party but it’s not our doing that IoTN made the editorial choice to include both in an article about campaign for cleaner seas.
          In my view – it makes perfect sense that chose to though.

    • I believe Feargal was there because both he & Polly belong to SERA. It’s sounding like sour grapes from the Greens that he is supporting Labour.

      Also I keep seeing that Polly Billington isn’t doing hustings but I’ve heard she’s doing at least 2 hustings. I’m sure someone will come along to confirm or deny that.

      • You are part correct – Polly had a longstanding engagement that clashed with the St. Luke’s hustings.
        As a seasoned campaigner – she really wanted a chance to debate her opponents so had been trying to reschedule her event.
        I believe she was successful and will now be able to attend.

  5. We all want beach, river and other public accessible watery areas to be clean. I pay an annual surcharge on one of my water bill’s which is being used to reduce storm overflows into a well known river.
    The local water company legally refused to deal with the storm overflows, an independent company Bazalgette Tunnel Limited was created to build and maintain the new infrastructure. So all good.
    Just means water bill payers need to pay, the only thing you get for nothing is ….

    • “We all want beach, river and other public accessible watery areas to be clean”
      I don’t think the Conservatives, who have been busy tearing up environmental protection laws over the last parliament, do.

  6. It’s nice to see Helen taking an interest in something that isn’t Housing. The penny must have dropped that Housing, on its own, won’t win an election campaign.

    All we need now is for Labour to get off the fence and tell the voters whether they unequivocally support Manston reopening as a cargo airport or not.

    • That’s incredibly unfair as Cllr Whitehead has been great Deputy Leader of the Labour group at TDC on all fronts.
      Having said that – she IS the cabinet member with responsibility for housing so is extremely focused on that subject. The scale of the problems we have in Thanet is far greater than people realise – with 1900 families in housing need.
      This creates a huge burden on TDC as we deal with the huge social and economic costs.
      She will make a wonderful MP if successful.

      • And what about the Manston issue ?

        Are the local Labour group, Polly and Helen supportive of Manston opening as a cargo hub ?

        It’s a very simple “yes” or “no” answer.

  7. Polly Billington can make it to this but not to the hustings? Looks like she’s afraid of the public and only wants to be around carefully selected small groups of Labour councillors. Feargal Sharkey should look into Polly’s paid lobbying role for large corporations at Hanover communications . Also worth asking how the green org she founded ‘UK100’ was funded as the company accounts don’t reveal it and she’s not replied to my emails about it, emails sent months ago.

    • Polly certainly isn’t afraid of the public and wants to meet as many as possible.
      She’s been knocking on doors in every corner of East Thanet from Pegwell and Newington through to Kingsgate and East Cliftonville.
      I’ve been out with her and we’re finding that people across the constituency are crying out for positive change.

      • Helen has been doing much the same in her area… except in Birchington, sadly. There’s a lot of anger here over house building, so we look forward to hearing her plans in person.

  8. Feargal Sharkey is a great campaigner. Eloquent and knowledgeable he should be in charge of water companies. Water companies are currently allowed to dump raw sewage into waterways and this must be stopped.

    Water companies should exist solely to provide good clean water and process sewage effectively. Their primary role should not be paying shareholder dividends.

    If labour let us down – shame on them and put them in the poo

    • Completely agree.
      Labour can’t do a single thing to hold the water companies to account if we don’t win the election.
      Vote Labour on 4 July!

    • I believe as with the railways where Labour will take back in house the franchises as they expire, a similar thing will happen with the water companies, many of which are on the verge of collapse such as Thames Water. To immediately nationalise as the Green Party advocate would cost billions in compensation which the shareholders would love to happen. Instead the plan is to hit these water companies with massive penalties whenever they break their contract which happens every time they release raw sewage into the seas and rivers. As the fines mount up the shareholder dividend vanishes and the situation becomes more straight forward for a new government to take back control without the cost to the tax payer.

  9. I’m reliably informed that Polly Billington has rearranged her busy itinerary so that she can take part in the hustings in Ramsgate on Monday 24th June.

  10. I am delighted to know the Polly has managed to rearrange her diary to attend the Ramsgate hustings, which a few individuals appeared to be concerned about. All candidates have work/life commitments and it is not always easy. More importantly the Labour group has been out on the doors of Thanet for months, supporting Polly and Helen in finding out what the important issues are for the Thanet constituencies.

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