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Tory MP mocked for recollection of swimming in sewage in Wales

18 May 2023 3 minute read
Barry-born Conservative MP Damian Green, speaking on the Peston programme (Credit: ITV)

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.”

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”

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.”


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Malcolm Jones
Malcolm Jones
9 months ago

Has normal a conservative MP putting Wales down 👇

Riki
Riki
9 months ago

Well, what does that say about him? If it’s remotely true, I suppose it explains why he turned out to be a Tory.

A.Redman
A.Redman
9 months ago

Remember going to Sandy Bay at Exmouth in Devon in the winter in the 70’s and raw sewage on the tide line!!I should imagine that you cil workers would be out cleaning the beach very early in the mornings if it was like that in the summer! At Dawlish at the same time of year and date seeing effluent scum across the bay.I hope it is different nowadays!

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
9 months ago

You swam with your eyes open and your mouth shut where I learnt to swim. The outflow pipe never moved and a working knowledge of tides is essential for a sea-side kid…

Last edited 9 months ago by Mab Meirion
Y Cymro
Y Cymro
9 months ago

Seeing the Tories were in control of Britain’s waterways when Damian Green was a child in Barry, he and they should be ashamed of themselves that any sewerage was released into our pristine rivers and coastline. Perhaps the floater in question wasn’t excrement but Damian Green himself. An easy mistake to make.

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
9 months ago

He is factually correct but incredibly stupid for saying it. Back in the 70’s only the daftest of the local population went swimming as the tide went out.

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