Southern Water crowned worst water company for complaints – for sixth year in a row

Scum foam at Langstone Harbour, Eastney

Published in the Portsmouth News on the 19th September 2018
Story by Ben Fishwick


IT HAS been in hot water for pumping waste water into the harbour – and now Southern Water has hit the bottom of the complaints league table. The water firm remains languishing as the worst rated company for complaints, a new Consumer Council for Water report has found.

Southern received 6,259 written complaints in 2017-18 – a 20 per cent reduction on the previous year – retaining its place in the field for a sixth year running.

The watchdog has placed Southern on its watch list for a third successive year. Southern has to give quarterly reports on its progress.

It received 248,936 phone calls from customers chasing problems, up from 220,306 the year before.

Sir Tony Redmond, London and South East chair for CCWater, said: ‘There are signs the company is heading in the right direction but we have not seen enough progress.

‘There will be no let-up in the pressure from us until the company gets more into line with the rest of the industry.’

As reported in the Portsmouth News, the Hayling Island-based group Save Our Island has demanded urgent action after raw sewage leaked into a drainage ditch surrounding people’s homes over the weekend.

Southern blamed the failure of its pumps on a blockage. Wet wipes and other items not meant to be flushed had blocked the Stoke wastewater pumping station.

The firm is also currently under investigation by the Environment Agency over discharges into Langstone Harbour.

Southern’s chief customer officer Simon Oates said: ‘Southern Water is undergoing a period of significant transformation and we are passionate about engaging directly with our customers and communities to help improve our services now and in the future.

‘Overall we have reduced complaints by 58 per cent and while we are rapidly closing the gap between ourselves and the rest of the industry, we know that genuine, lasting change takes time. We still have a long way to go to meet the standards our customers rightly expect but the changes we’ve introduced this year are driving down complaints.’

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