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Itchen River Pollution Priority For New Southampton MPs

In an interview with Voice FM’s Ned Henderson, the two new MP’s for Southampton made cleaning the River Itchen a priority for the new Labour government. (transcript below)

For Darren Paffey, the new MP for Southampton Itchen, it’s all in the name!

“Well, one of the defining parts of the constituency is the River Itchen,” he said. “And every day, people are unable to swim in there, paddle board in there, enjoy all the things that a beautiful river like that, people should be able to do because it stinks.”

“The sewage that's pouring into there is simply unacceptable. And so one of the things that is both in Labour's national policy and in my local, pledges is to go after the water companies who really need to get their act cleaned up and get our river cleaned up.”

“And so there will be legislation to ensure that they follow the expectations and the guidelines for clean water  on that. They stop polluting. It's  very simple. So one of the things I expect to see and smell, if you like, is a cleaner, river that people can use. That's, that's one of the, the key things, key priorities.”

For Satvir Kaur, the new MP for Southampton Test, the other river that defines the city, and she pulled no punches when taking about the water company involved.

“I'm a firm believer that we're the first generation to truly understand  the impact of climate change and the last generation to actually do something about it,” she said to Voice FM.

“I'm really happy  and  excited that the Labour Party have talked about tackling the climate crisis alongside growing our economy, because so many people believe that it's an either or, and actually I think you can truly have both.”

“And if you look at other countries around  the globe, they've really successfully done this, and I do think places like Southampton can really benefit from things like green infrastructure, GB Energy, which will also create hundreds of jobs and bring bills low for local families.”

“When it comes to  sewage in the Itchen, which is a huge frustration you know, I'm the first to say that I think Southern Water is by far one of the worst water companies there is in this country and I will work extremely hard to make sure that they are held to account.”

There is a full transcript below and also the official result from both votes.

The number of votes recorded for each candidate in the Southampton Itchen Region is as follows:
BATHO James Edward – Liberal Democrats – 2,684
CLUNE Declan Peter – Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition – 264
CULLEY Alex – Reform UK – 6,853
KELLY Neil McKinnon Lyon – Green Party – 2,793
PAFFEY Darren James – Labour Party – 15,782
YANKSON Sidney – The Conservative Party Candidate – 9,677
 
The number of votes recorded for each candidate in the Southampton Test Region is as follows:
BARBOUR Katherine Jane – Green Party – 3,594
BURCOMBE-FILER Ben – The Conservative Party Candidate – 6,612
EDWARDS John Peter – Reform UK – 5,261
FRICKER Maggie – Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition – 366
GRAVATT Thomas Stephen – Liberal Democrats – 3,252
KAUR Satvir – Labour Party – 15,945
SHAUKAT Wajahat – Workers Party – 775
 
The following candidate has been duly elected for Southampton Itchen:
PAFFEY Darren James – Labour Party
The following candidate has been duly elected for Southampton Test:
KAUR Satvir – Labour Party

Audio Transcript - Reporter Ned Henderson

Interview with Darren Paffey MP

[00:00:00] Ned Henderson: Okay, so Darren, you have gained a seat for your party. This is obviously a time for celebration. I don't want to spoil the party at all, but a big theme of your speech was about change. So what change in Itchen do you believe is most urgent? 

[00:00:15] Darren Paffey: Well, one of the defining parts of the constituency is the River Itchen.

And every day, people are unable to swim in there, paddle board in there, enjoy all the things that a beautiful river like that, people should be able to do because it stinks. 

The sewage that's pouring into there is simply unacceptable. And so one of the things that is both in Labour's national policy and in my local government pledges is to go after the water companies who really need to get their act cleaned up and get our river cleaned up.

And so there will be legislation to ensure that they follow the expectations and the guidelines for clean water on that they stop polluting. It's very simple. So one of the things I expect to see and smell, if you like, is a cleaner, river that people can use. 

That's, that's one of the, the key things, key priorities.

[00:01:13] Ned Henderson: Your win is one of the many gains made by Labour across the country. Do you now feel any pressure to deliver? 

[00:01:20] Darren Paffey: Of course. I mean, you would be an irresponsible Member of Parliament if you didn't feel that pressure, that expectation, and that's what I trust will keep me in check in this new role, the expectation of people to, to see that change that we have been talking about that that Labour is setting about delivering.

So I welcome that. pressure in a sense. 

But I want to show that actually we are serious and we mean business. This is not being an MP for being an MP sake. For me, this is about my home city. It's about the things that my family and my friends and my colleagues and my neighbours, people I know in this city need to see change and the people that I've served as a councillor for 13 years. 

It's really important to me that they see change as well and that I reflect for them, their priorities in parliament and achieve change in Westminster that's going to affect Southampton. So it's, it's not about disappearing up to London.

It's about achieving change in London that will improve the lives of people in Southampton. 

[00:02:31] Ned Henderson: You very graciously credited Roysten Smith for his work as MP. What though would you do differently to him during his tenure that maybe frustrated the constituents of Itchen at the time? 

[00:02:44] Darren Paffey: I think what people want is a really visible MP.

At the moment, we all have to acknowledge that public confidence in members of parliament is probably at a historic low. 

Since the expenses scandal, you know, 15 years ago. Plus scandal after scandal that we've seen in under this government. People write off politicians. And they say that they, they don't represent us or they're all in it for themselves, etc.

What I want to do differently is to be really visible, really contactable. I want to be sharing continually with people what it is I'm doing, what I'm talking on in Parliament what I, who I'm meeting in the constituency what investment I'm bringing in. 

Through other partners and, and businesses and so on that will benefit the city.

So I just want to act and communicate what is being done in, in people's names. They're the ones who have put their vote on the ballot paper today. They should expect accountability from their MP and I want to achieve that.

[00:03:46] Ned Henderson: And do you have one final message to your new constituents here in Itchen?

[00:03:50] Darren Paffey: Come and meet me. I really plan to, to get going over the summer period with a big conversation so that I can engage with people, continue engaging in the same way that we have during the campaign. 

But now this is about what, what needs to be done. This is not about winning an election now. This is about winning change and achieving change for the city.

So I really want to be, to be involved. Accessible to people and when they see the events organised and advertise them, please do sign up so that we can engage in together achieve the change that we want to see for the city. 

[00:04:23] Ned Henderson: Darren Paffey, thank you very much.

Interview with Satvir Kaur MP

So there's six weeks campaigning. It's finally over, and you've got the result you wanted. Describe how you're feeling. 

[00:04:35] Satvir Kaur: Oh, well, firstly, it's been a lot more than six weeks. But no, I feel absolutely incredible. I feel humbled. I feel honoured.

It's actually a really overwhelming feeling. 

Especially as someone who's born and bred in Southampton, grew up in our inner city. Never in a million years did I think something like this would happen to me.

 But the great people of this city put their trust in me and I will spend every single day repaying them back and working as hard as I possibly can to serve them to the best of my ability.

[00:05:07] Ned Henderson: You mentioned in your speech you had big shoes to fill. Following on from [Alan] Whitehead of course, he's been here since 1997, gave him loads of credit but what will you do differently, to him? 

[00:05:17] Satvir Kaur: Listen, Alan's been absolutely fantastic and has served our city well, and he's, personified kind of what I would say politics should be around including integrity, and honesty, and decency, and dedication, and he's really shown that.

In our city and for our city and I'm really keen to carry on that mantle and serve the city as he did. 

Of course, I'll bring my own passion and energy and drive. But I, I don't have a bad word to say about Alan. I think he's done amazing. I, of course, will just be different. 

[00:05:58] Ned Henderson: When I spoke to Darren, we touched on the pollution in the Itchen River. Here at Voice FM, environment is quite a big part of of our outlook on, on the news in general. 

[00:06:08] Satvir Kaur: Yeah. 

[00:06:09] Ned Henderson: Is this a priority for you? 

[00:06:10] Satvir Kaur: Of course you know, I'm a firm believer that we're the first generation to truly understand the impact of climate change and the last generation to actually do something about it.

I'm really happy and excited that the Labour Party have talked about tackling the climate crisis alongside growing our economy, because so many people believe that it's an either or, and actually I think you can truly have both. 

And if you look at other countries around the globe, they've really successfully done this, and I do think places like Southampton can really benefit from things like green infrastructure, GB Energy, which will also create hundreds of jobs and bring bills low for local families.

When it comes to sewage in the Itchen, which is a huge frustration you know, I'm the first to say that I think Southern Water is by far one of the worst water companies there is in this country and I will work extremely hard to make sure that they are held to account. 

[00:07:07] Ned Henderson: One final question you perhaps have, although I feel like you do know this you do have an affiliation with Voice FM as we are based at the Graham Road Youth Centre.

[00:07:17] Satvir Kaur: Oh, so that's my old youth centre. 

[00:07:18] Ned Henderson: Exactly. So What are your memories of that time spent? 

[00:07:21] Satvir Kaur: Ah, so I'm obviously I'm from Newtown my family still live on Oxford Avenue was walking past Youth Newtown Youth Centre several times today while out canvassing so my distinct memories of the Youth Centre, used to be called the Boys Club back then, which I know is not a great term, is it?

[00:07:39] Ned Henderson: Not very 2024. 

[00:07:41] Satvir Kaur: No, it's not very 2024 and like, I think about it, now, and I'm just like, why did everyone call it the Boys Club? That's outrageous. 

But no, I basically spent most of my after school off there. You know, all the kids from the area would go have fun, socialise, be together. 

I go back sometimes now, particularly when I go visit Voice FM, and actually I would say to your credit, you've really harnessed community spirit within that community and give genuinely, everybody a voice and champion that community and all our communities in the city. So credit to you.

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