Council leader to raise issue of river pollution despite voting down motion

Shay Bottomley

A motion calling for council lobbying over pollution levels in rivers was voted down at a meeting on Tuesday.

Cllr Amy Tisi (Lib Dem, Clewer East) presented a motion to councillors asking Cllr Andrew Johnson (Con, Hurley & the Walthams) to write to the Secretary of State, the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee and the regional director of the National Farmers’ Union with the council’s concerns.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Cllr Johnson stated that the power of regulation belonged to national government rather than the local authority, and said: “Whilst I share many of the sentiments of this motion, and the overall need to improve water quality, I do question whether this is the right format for such a discussion.”

The leader of the council then added that he would be taking the issue up with the borough’s two MPs, and that he was unable to support the motion which he only saw ‘on publication of the council agenda’.

In summarising, Cllr Tisi said: “I wasn’t aware that I had to share the homework with the headteacher before I hand it in – we’ve never been asked to show motions before they’ve been published.

“This is my forum to be able to bring things to a wider attention and it’s something that many members seem to be very passionate about, and I really can’t understand why you feel you can’t support it.”

“It’s extremely disappointing, and I think our residents will be disappointed as well.”

Upon a vote, the motion was voted down along party lines, except for Cllr Donna Stimson (Con, St Marys) who abstained.

However, following the meeting, the leader of the council tweeted: “Poor water quality and pollution in our rivers is a massive issue for many and that is why I will be raising this critical issue with our MPs and the relevant minister at the earliest opportunity.”

Cllr Johnson denied opposition claims that this was a U-turn and added: “It was disappointing that a motion of such importance wasn’t shared before submission, as with genuine cross-party discussion we could perhaps have found an agreeable compromise.”

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