CAMPAIGNERS protested outside the offices of a major water company demanding the industry be returned to public ownership.

Activists from Worthing West Labour and campaign group We Own It gathered at the Worthing headquarters of Southern Water on Saturday to make their feelings known.

The protests follow a report from watchdog Ofwat which uncovered “serious failures” within the company.

Southern Water was forced to pay a record £126million in fines and customer rebates.

Of this, £3million will be paid as a fine and the remaining £123million will refund millions of its customers across the South East.

Ellen Lees, campaigns officer at We Own It said: "Thirty years of water privatisation is thirty years of failure.

"We've had rising bills, shareholders and CEOs pocketing millions and now Southern Water being caught polluting our environment and trying to cover it up for seven years.

"We're thrilled that over thirty people turned up to Southern Water's HQ to tell them that their time is up, we're going to take them into public ownership.

"They join more than 20,000 people who have signed our petition for publicly owned water, and the 83 per cent of the public who support it."

A Southern Water spokesman said matters regarding privatisation were being handled by Water UK, the association which represents water companies.

A Water UK spokesperson said: “Customers are now five times less likely to suffer from supply interruptions, eight times less likely to suffer from sewer flooding, and 100 times less likely to have low water pressure than they were when the industry was in government hands.