Tory MP mocked for recollection of swimming in sewage in Wales
A Conservative MP has been ridiculed after comments about swimming in sewage at a Welsh beach when he was a child.
Barry-born Damian Green, was appearing on ITV’s Peston programme when he said it was “sort of regarded as acceptable” to swim in wastewater at Jackson’s Bay.
The MP for Ashford, 67, drew mockery from many on social media.
He said: “It’s a problem. I’m absolutely not denying that it is a big issue. But it always has been. It’s interesting — I remember as a child in south Wales swimming in sewage. Jackson’s Bay in Barry used to be a sewage outlet where we all paddled and swam. And it was sort of regarded as acceptable. Of course it wasn’t acceptable.”
"I remember as a child in South Wales swimming in sewage"
— Peston (@itvpeston) May 17, 2023
Reacting to his comments, Labour shadow environment secretary Jim McMahon said: “Damian’s government has been in power for 13 years and his constituents suffered 570 sewage dumps last year. He shouldn’t be normalising it. When this is the response, no wonder the Tory sewage scandal is as bad as it is.”
One Twitter user added: “I’m not sure ‘I used to swim in shit, so you should happily swim in shit’, is the winning argument that Damian Green thinks it is.”
Celebrity scientist Brian Cox mocked the Tory MP with little inspiration from Monty Python’s ‘Four Yorkshiremen’ sketch:
He said: “You were lucky. I had to get up in the morning at ten o’clock at night half an hour before I went to bed, drink a cup of sulphuric acid, work twenty-nine hours a day down mill, and pay mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our Dad and our mother would kill us and dance about on our graves singing Hallelujah. And you try and tell the young people of today that … they won’t believe you”
You were lucky. I had to get up in the morning at ten o'clock at night half an hour before I went to bed, drink a cup of sulphuric acid, work twenty-nine hours a day down mill, and pay mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our Dad and our mother would… https://t.co/JmyVHjvpGx
— Brian Cox (@ProfBrianCox) May 18, 2023
According to Natural Resources Wales, as of last year Jackson’s Bay was classed as having ‘sufficient’ water quality, the worst of any Barry beach.
A Natural Resources Wales report found traces of sewage debris were observed in 20-30% of tests at Jackson’s Bay from 2017 to 2020. Factors affecting the beach’s water quality included combined sewage overflows, agricultural pollution and misconnections between sewage and water pipes,
The MP’s comments come as Welsh Water’s chief executive Pete Perry apologised for sewage issues in Wales.
“‘We are always very sorry for any environmental harm that we cause linked to delivering our wastewater services,” he said. “We absolutely understand and accept public concern about any sewage pollution impacting our rivers and coastal waters in Wales and so improving river water quality is our absolute priority. We will do everything we can as fast as we can, tackling first where we can make the biggest difference. We will not shy away from this issue.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.