The River Ver, flowing through the heart of our city, is one of only 200 precious chalk steams in the entire world.

It is a clear, constant spring from underground chalk aquifers, which makes for a perfect source of clean water.

But our river - like so many around the country - is being deluged by raw sewage.

Liberal Democrats have been campaigning for years against the continued pumping of raw sewage into our rivers and seas.

Yet time and time again the Conservatives have let water companies continue to do it with impunity.

We’ve repeatedly called for a ban on water bosses’ bonuses until they clean up their act. We’ve called for a "sewage tax" on the big water companies’ mega profits to fund that clean-up.

And we’ve called for companies themselves to be re-structured as public benefit companies – to put environmental principles before profit - with volunteer river wardens having a seat on their boards.

So far, the Conservative government has resisted all these calls - hoping that the issue might just go away.

But this month, shocking new figures and the possible imminent collapse of Thames Water - the largest water company in England - have put the issue back in the headlines.

New figures from the Environment Agency showed that raw sewage discharges into rivers and seas doubled from 1.8 million hours in 2022 to 3.6 million in 2023. At the same time, England’s water firms made a staggering £1.7bn in pre-tax profits.

My party and I have called on the government to declare a national environmental emergency and convene an urgent meeting of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) to review the impact of sewage spills on human health - for river and sea swimmers in particular.

We’ve also called for Thames Water to be put into special administration and made a public benefit company.

It’s high time that their executives face consequences for pocketing sky-high bonuses, whilst giving billions to overseas investors and watching their infrastructure crumble.

If the government fails to act, then we - the tax-payers - could be left paying millions to bail them out.

The choice is simple: let this mess continue or put this failed company under new ownership.

Time and again, profits are being prioritised, and our rivers are paying the price. Enough is enough.