By-election candidates in sewage row as swim warning issued for Blackpool beach

Swimmers have been advised about pollution levels
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Plans by Labour to force water companies to end beach pollution on coastlines including Blackpool have come under fire from the Conservatives who say they are already handing out tough sanctions.

Concerns have been raised about beach pollutionConcerns have been raised about beach pollution
Concerns have been raised about beach pollution

The row follows the issue coming under the spotlight over the Easter weekend, with Blackpool North Beach among those around the country where people were advised not to swim due to concerns over sewage in the sea.

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Labour has pledged to put polluting water companies under special measures with a package of tough sanctions after the Environment Agency warned against swimming in 22 tourist hotspots. Blackpool North and St Annes North beaches are both currently subject to advice against bathing notices.

Labour's plans include giving regulators the power to block bonus payments if water is not cleaned up, toughening up fines and forcing more stringent monitoring of water outlets.

Chris Webb is Labour's parliamentary candidate in the upcoming Blackpool South by-electionChris Webb is Labour's parliamentary candidate in the upcoming Blackpool South by-election
Chris Webb is Labour's parliamentary candidate in the upcoming Blackpool South by-election

Chris Webb, Labour's Parliamentary candidate for Blackpool South, said: "It is shocking that the Conservative Government yet again have allowed Blackpool beach to be hit by an avalanche of raw sewage over the Easter weekend.

"Blackpool Beach is a much-loved location for locals and holidaymakers and unbeknownst to those using the beach, their health has been put at risk because of the government's failure to act. It should be the polluter, not the public or businesses paying the price. From day one, a Labour Government will take urgent action against water companies to bring an end to illegal sewage dumping, putting the public's health first."

David JonesDavid Jones
David Jones
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But David Jones, the Conservative candidate in Blackpool South, warned Labour's plans would be unaffordable.

He said: “Though the amount of sewage discharge by water companies into our seas is unacceptable, this Conservative Government is the first to bring forward legislation to force water companies to reduce storm overflows.

"Labour did nothing about this in 13 years of power. This is more political game playing and Labour know their uncosted plans would cost Blackpool residents thousands of pounds a year.”

The Conservatives say they also require Ofwat to incentivise water companies to invest to reduce the use of storm overflows and are prosecuting water companies in relation to illegal pollution. A Conservative spokesman said: "Since 2015 the Environment Agency has brought 59 prosecutions against water companies, securing fines of over £150m."

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