Water bills hike warning...and why you should never swim the Thames ...The Standard podcast


Mayor Sadiq Khan started the week in hot water over river safety - after his manifesto stated he planned to make the capital’s waterways so clean they would be “swimmable” within a decade.

But the incumbent Labour candidate’s policy document, which focussed on cleaning up the capital’s rivers, made no mention of dangers posed by the activity.

Khan’s announcement following a claimed five-fold increase in the amount of sewage being dumped into the river linked to Thames Water discharges.

The Port of London Authority, which manages the tidal Thames from Teddington out to the Estuary, states the current is so strong it “overpowers even the strongest swimmers”, and therefore the activity is restricted.

Along with the RNLI and Met Police, the PLA every year deals with numerous drownings, often after an unknowing swimmer gets into distress.

Khan’s team later suggested his plan could include “designated swimming areas” in the Thames, Wandle and Lea rivers but he would “never recommend swimming somewhere that is unsafe to do so”.

At the same time, there was more bad news for utility bills - as Thames Water, which is battling a budget black hole, suggested customers’ payments are set to rocket by almost half.

Thames Water said in a statement the company “regards all discharges as unacceptable” and is “taking action to improve the health of rivers”, while bill hikes were linked to £18.7 billion investment to improve services.

The Standard podcast is joined by Evening Standard business editor Jonathan Prynn and former lifeguard Brendon Prince, founder of Above Water, a water safety and drowning awareness charity.

Plus, find out why the Mayor and his Conservative rival Susan Hall pulled out of business-focussed City Hall election hustings.

Listen above, or wherever you find your podcasts.