Row breaks out in council over sewage

Langstone Harbour
Langstone Harbour
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A COUNCILLOR has been accused of ‘disgraceful behaviour’ after putting forward a motion to review planning policy at a council meeting.

Liberal Democrat Ann Buckley asked for an urgent review of Havant’s commitment to 6,300 new homes in light of the discharges of raw sewage into Langstone Harbour by Southern Water.

Cllr Buckley claimed such a large number of new homes would put even more pressure on Budds Farm, the sewage treatment works in Havant.

Southern Water has already been fined £50,000 and faces another hearing for more illegal discharges at Portsmouth Magistrates Court today.

But Conservative opponents at last night’s full council meeting shot the retiring councillor down, claiming the motion was only put forward to help the Lib Dems’ election campaign.

Councillor Mike Fairhurst, said: ‘I’ve seen some naked electioneering in my time but I’m sure that raising the motion halfway though an election campaign is to try and get the headline, “Tory council opposes cuts in housing”.’

Cllr Mike Cheshire went further, saying that as a former member of the development management committee Cllr Buckley knew that any major development must be scrutinised by the Environment Agency and the harbour boards before it could go ahead anyway.

He added: ‘It’s disgraceful behaviour on behalf of the proposer and seconder (of the motion).’

But Lib Dem councillor Faith Ponsonby said it was raised because of recent and upcoming court cases involving the water firm. She said: ‘As a council we should be making a stand on this now, not in two months’ time.’

Cllr David Guest said that legally the number of houses cannot be reduced now and the problem was down to the capacity at Budds Farm, not the number of houses being built.

A motion was then passed to debate the issue at the environment and community board overview and scrutiny committee later in the year.