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Photo from protest on 12 October 2023 Photo Katy Colley

Water bill boycotters to stage first Town Hall event

In a sign of the growing revolt against water companies, bill boycotters are due to stage their first Town Hall event in East Sussex next week. The team behind have joined together with local group Hastings Boycotts Southern Water (HBSW) to bring together boycotters from all parts of the country on 15 March. Katy Colley from writes.

A full day of activities has been planned with speakers, round table discussions on ‘first steps, communication, dealing with debt collectors and legalities’ as well as sharing hubs.

One of the confirmed speakers is Mike Deacon, who has been boycotting his water bill for several years and is now suing Southern Water for ‘loss of amenity’.

Mike Deacon Photo Katy Colley

There will also be contributions from legal and utility finance experts.

This is for everyone. Whether you’ve been boycotting for months or even years already or haven’t started yet, it’s an opportunity to come together for fellowship and advice.

Though the event is being held in Sussex and we have billed it as a Southern Water Town Hall event, our actions are applicable to all 11 water companies in England and Wales providing wastewater services.

We can all learn from one another’s experiences and find strength in our unity.

Nobody has all the answers. What we are doing is unprecedented and the water companies and regulators are working hard to counter our movement. This makes it even more vital that we come together to share ideas and advice with one another.

The website was started in June last year, in response to the growing sewage scandal. They say they have provided advice on boycotting to thousands up and down the country and that every one of the 11 water companies providing wastewater services in England and Wales is now under active boycott.

The campaign received a boost in November last year, when Extinction Rebellion started their own ‘Don’t Pay for Dirty Water Campaign’ and in the last few months, new local groups have sprung up targeting specific companies, like Boycott Thames Water.

Katy Colley and Feargal from SOS Whitstable Photo Gerry Atkinson

The Consumer Council of Water (CCW) released a statement last November saying that it was aware of the boycott movement, but advised customers to keep paying all charges.

In response to the boycott, OFWAT removed a whole level of accountability in the water industry.

Since we started our actions the Water Redress Scheme has been effectively scrapped – nobody has announced this. It happened quietly.

Previously, after complaining to the CCW it was possible to escalate a complaint to independent adjudicators WATRS. This is no longer the case.

Now, the CCW acts as police, judge and jury! They are the new adjudicators and they will only allow your case if they decide they want to. This is basically removing a whole level of accountability. It’s disgusting and yet it has all happened on the quiet. But it won’t deter our actions. It is clear the regulators can’t hold water companies to account so we, as customers, have the right to do so.

Olivia Cavanagh has been boycotting the wastewater part of her Southern Water bill for three years and has seen off several debt collection agencies over the years.

Speaking on behalf of HBSW she said: ‘New people are joining the movement all the time and the one thing that we are consistently asked is whether we can offer support or advice. Alongside XR, we are holding regular Zoom meetings to new boycotters but we felt this would be the right forum to bring people together and compare notes. The water companies are quick to adapt their methods and messaging so we have to be responsive too.

‘Many of us are long term boycotters but some people are new and want to know how they can be part of this action. There are lots of different ways to register your protest and we want to share what we’ve learned over the years with as many people as possible.’

To learn more about the event visit:

You can find HBSW on Instagram.

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Posted 14:51 Friday, Mar 8, 2024 In: Campaigns


Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. John Bernard

    Terrific initiative – clean water at a reasonable price should be taken as read. Supply should not be under the control of offshore owners using it to generate dividends to investorsand with no incentive to invest in supply and disposal infrastructure.

    Comment by John Bernard — Friday, Mar 15, 2024 @ 11:47

  2. Terrific untitiative

    Terrific initiative – clean water at a reasonable price should be taken as read. Supply should not be under the control of offshore owners using it to generate dividends to investorsand with no incentive to invest in supply and disposal infrastructure.

    Comment by Terrific untitiative — Friday, Mar 15, 2024 @ 11:45

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