An East Sussex council has come under fire for issuing what’s been called an “incorrect and misleading” news release about grants from South-East Water to local community groups and charities.
Wealden District Council was forced to re-issue its original news item after incorrectly suggesting that South-East Water was responsible for waste disposal when that duty falls to Southern Water in the Wealden area.
But the basic facts of the story are still “wide of the mark” according to Wealden Conservatives who say that the grants were given by the water company as a result of outages last December which affected many residents in the north of the district.
Following that failure, Wealden’s MP Nus Ghani, the then Conservative leader at Wealden, Cllr Ann Newton and the council’s chief executive met South East Water in February to discuss the failure during what was described as a “tense meeting”. It resulted in the water firm promising £50,000 in donations to local good causes, compensation for many who lost their water supply and a pledge to rectify the supply problems.
The charitable monies were duly handed over during a ceremony on 2nd June, attended by the MP and Conservative council leader. It received widespread media coverage.
“For some bizarre reason, this week we have seen Wealden District Council regurgitate the story”, says Cllr Michael Lunn who was vociferous on behalf of residents, businesses and farms left without water last month. “Why such old news is now being presented as a new story is unexplainable. The donation was as a result of the intervention by Nus Ghani MP and Cllr Ann Newton and yet both have been excised from this week’s repeat.”
Wealden Conservatives say that however much the donation, and no matter how often it’s publicised, it does not let South East Water off the hook. “We will continue to fight for proper water supplies for all Wealden residents just as we did from the moment the taps dried up last month”, added Cllr Lunn who continues to fight for residents in Rotherfield, Hadlow Down and Mayfield who have yet to receive compensation for last December’s disruptions. He has written to SE Water’s chief, David Hilton, and awaits a response.
* Wealden MP, Nus Ghani and Cllr Ann Newton are pictured on 2nd June with recipients of the SE Water donations