You won't believe who's in charge of the sewage crisis!

15 November 2023

If you care about the crisis of sewage in our rivers and seas, you might know that the new Environment Secretary Steve Barclay is now in charge of sorting this out.

But did you know that he's married to Karen Barclay, who is the Head of Regional Engagement at Anglian Water (and was previously Head of Public Affairs)?

Anglian Water is one of the privatised English water companies, providing nearly seven million people with water and owned by a Canadian pension fund, an Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund and asset managers in Australia.

Anglian Water is currently under investigation by both Ofwat and the Environment Agency for illegal sewage dumping. It's the worst company for self-reporting pollution. It has killed 5000 fish while using sewage pumps that were nearly 40 years old. It’s tipped untreated sewage into the North Sea. And last year the company's TV advert was banned for being misleading about its pollution record.

Since privatisation, Anglian Water has racked up £6.6 billion in debt, paid for by its customers. Last year it gave out £92 million to shareholders despite hiking bills AND its CEO got a pay rise from £1.3 million to £1.4 million because of his ‘good performance’.

We need an Environment Secretary who will take this company into public ownership as a matter of priority, so it can work for people and planet, not profit.

Steve Barclay is going home to an Anglian Water boss every day, so he cannot do a good job of standing up for the people, the rivers and the seas of the East of England. Please share this blog and our video if you agree.



Photo used under creative commons licensing, thanks to UK Government.

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Joanne Septon replied on Permalink

What a strange article, presumably written by a man because it reeks of sexism. I would assume a senior executive is able to look after herself without the help of her husband and it's clear, with a little level of journalistic integrity that Mrs Barclay is working on future proofing Anglian through major projects like resevoir builds and has absolutely nothing to do with the daily running of Anglian Water. I would be embarrassed if i'd written this article.

John replied on Permalink

Hi Joanne, thanks for your comment. Our blog was written by Cat Hobbs, Director of We Own It - definitely a woman, and definitely not embarrassed to point out a potential conflict of interest!

We've changed the title of the blog since your comment was submitted, but our concerns remain unchanged (and is reflected in this Guardian article - that a senior member of the cabinet has unacceptably close links with a senior member of staff at Anglian Water who, presumably, has input into their strategic direction. Our observations would have remained the same if the roles were reversed.

Kay Andrews replied on Permalink

I am truly shocked by these conflicts of interest

Anonymous replied on Permalink

A privatised industry providing a service for the public benefit has proved to be an inherent contradiction. Soft (scant) regulation and enforcement has left investment and quality in tatters. It needs to be returned to public ownership with a solid 20 Yr plan to right the wrongs of decades of mismanagement and under-investment. Our health depends on it.

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