The Green Party candidate for Carlisle has said it is ‘high time’ that water companies prioritise ‘environmental sustainability over corporate profits’ after a bid to criminalise water companies that fail to tackle sewage fell through in the House of Commons.

The Liberal Democrats put forward an amendment that would criminalise water companies if they do not tackle sewage spills.

Their amendment to the criminal justice bill failed this week after Labour abstained and Tory MPs voted against it.

Sewage in Cumbria’s waterways has been a problem for some time and United Utilities have been under pressure to improve following reports of a further spillages into Windermere.

Green Party candidate, Gavin Hawkton has called for more to be done to tackle sewage spills into our waterways.

News and Star: Gavin Hawkton Gavin Hawkton (Image: Supplied)“This was an opportunity to criminalise water companies that fail to tackle sewage dumping,” said Mr Hawkton.

“For Labour to abstain is shocking—what is the point of an opposition party that can't provide opposition?"

"Bringing water companies back under public ownership is incredibly necessary to protect our environment and public health.

“The Green Party is the only party advocating for this essential move.

"It's high time we had water run by and for the public, prioritising environmental sustainability over corporate profits."

Labour candidate for Carlisle, Julie Minns, said that the party is ‘committed’ to strengthen the law on water pollution but that the Liberal amendment didn’t go far enough.

“Although the Lib Dem amendment covered one element of the problem, legislation needs to go much further,” said Julie.

News and Star: Julie MinnsJulie Minns (Image: Supplied)“We need to tackle the failures of the water companies on all fronts with a much wider package of legislation - as Labour have committed to do.”

Conservative MP for Carlisle, John Stevenson said it was a ‘cynical’ use of parliamentary time but supported measures to improve performance of the water companies.

“This was a cynical use of Parliamentary debate by the Liberal Democrats,” said John.

News and Star: John StevensonJohn Stevenson (Image: Supplied)“As the Minister stated in the debate there was no need for the amendment because the similar powers and penalties already exist in other legislation. This would have achieved absolutely nothing new.

“I do however support the Government and the regulators efforts to improve the performance of the water companies to ensure we have a modern and safe water and sewage system.”

Carlisle Liberal Democrat candidate, Cllr Brian Wernham disputed this claim.

“As a Liberal Democrat, I see nothing cynical about wanting to have clean water to drink and clean water to swim in.

News and Star: Cllr Brian WernhamCllr Brian Wernham (Image: Supplied)"The Liberal Democrats tabled this amendment to make bosses of the water companies responsible for the safety of the people who rely upon clean tap water. 

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“The MP for Carlisle was present and voted against our amendment.  Unfortunately, Labour MPs abstained rather than supporting our proposed measure.

"As residents will know I have been campaigning for clean water in Carlisle for some time - and I will not stop."