A COUNCIL has been urged to ditch the middle man and supply its own water instead.

The move could save Brighton and Hove City Council £194,000 over three years and improve customer service, according to Green councillors.

This would involve it applying for a self-supply licence granted by water regulator Ofwat, which would allow it to become a purchaser in the water market.

In a statement, the city’s Green group said this would “cut out water companies which often charge a premium”.

Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, who is proposing that the council explores the option to “self-supply” water, said: “Greens will continue to fight for an end to water privatisation – and while that fight goes on, we want to see residents given the democratic oversight over water they deserve.

“Exploring the option to self-supply water would allow the council to directly buy water services – cutting out the water companies and their profit margins.

“On top of lowering bills, the city’s water supply would be brought under direct democratic oversight – including wastewater management, giving us the opportunity to do more for our environment. Crucially, councils who opt to ‘self-supply’ are also given a say in how water is managed nationwide.

“We are pushing for Brighton and Hove to become the latest council to challenge how water supply is owned and run– for the good of our residents and environment.”

The proposition was considered by the council’s policy, resources and growth committee on Thursday.

A council spokesman said: “Councillors were advised that a self-supply licence would require additional resources in terms of meter reading programmes, wholesaler billing and the creation of emergency plans. It was also noted that any self-supply licence would only apply to households or businesses based in premises owned by the council.

“Councillors agreed to ask officers to draft a report on this issue to be brought to a future meeting of the committee.”

The announcement comes after a series of “serious failures” were uncovered in a report on Southern Water by Ofwat.

It was found to have failed to operate a number of wastewater treatment works properly leading to equipment failures and spills of wastewater into the environment, as well as manipulating its wastewater sampling process, leading to misreporting of information to the watchdog and avoiding penalties.

The company was forced to pay a record £126 million in fines and customer rebates. Of this, £3 million will be paid as a fine and the remaining £123million will refund millions of its customers across the South East.

Earlier this month protesters from campaign group We Own It gathered outside Southern Water’s HQ in Worthing to demand the water industry be returned to public ownership nationally.

Brighton Pavilion Green MP Caroline Lucas has publicly backed the campaign when she joined a photo call in arliament with We Own It. The group’s campaign manager Ellen Lees said it was thrilled to have MPs “affirm their commitment to publicly owned water”.