By Justin Madders

MP for Ellesmere Port

IN OUR part of the world we have seen a reasonable amount of rainfall in the last week or so, although I have no doubt that farmers and gardeners might well disagree.

But drought-like conditions have affected most other parts of the UK – to the point that there are those who believe a national hosepipe ban should be implemented as a national priority.

And that compulsory water metering should be introduced across the UK by the end of the decade – an idea already given short shrift by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

It is being reported that National Infrastructure Committee experts warned the Government four years ago that considerable investment would have to be made in the nation’s water supply equipment by the 2030s. Although some improvements have been made by water firms, nearly three billion litres of water is still lost every day with the price tag for investing in plugging those leaks estimated to be in the region of £20 billion.

Water metering is considered by the industry as the best tool for cutting water use as the UK has the highest usage in Europe. It is thought that water meters have been installed in only about half of households in England and Wales, but these customers use 33 litres a day less than the national average of 141 litres a day.

And from the agricultural perspective, the National Farmers’ Union believes more investment in water irrigation, on farm reservoirs and a better plan to manage water resources is needed.

It is clear that with increasing costs, leaking pipes and a huge shortfall in investment that privatisation of water has not worked. The focus of water companies should be on protecting the environment, keeping bills down and fighting climate change. Instead it is too often on returning dividends to private shareholders. This has left customers paying high prices for worse services. For example, the National Audit Office found that water bills increased by 40% in the 25 years following privatisation.

I look forward to the day when a Labour Government is able to prioritise a change to a network of regional, publicly-owned water companies run by councils, workers and customers to deliver a modern and transparent water system which works for everyone.

Now onto a much more positive theme – the success of England Women at the Euro 2022 championships.

On behalf of my football-loving constituents, let me pass on our congratulations to everyone involved in the spectacular success of England beating Germany 2-1 at Wembley Stadium watched by a record-breaking crowd of 87,192 and by millions on their television screens.

This superb victory by host team England Women will hopefully provide the spur for many girls to take up the sport at very young ages and to continue to play long into their lives.

As someone who still enjoys getting onto the pitch for a game whenever time allows, I know all too well just how much enjoyment being able to take part in football – on the pitch, by helping to organise a team or simply as an enthusiastic spectator – offers so many people.