Southern Water has committed to regular seawater testing to ensure the water quality of the city’s beaches.

Hove MP Peter Kyle and Brighton and Hove City Council have obtained a commitment from the water company to use an independent verifier to test for sewage around beaches in Hove all year round, rather than only in the summer.

The move will also include an option to undertake spot tests if there is a particular concern on a given day.

The data will also be made publicly available for residents and visitors alike.

The extra sampling will be funded by Southern Water themselves.

Council leader Bella Sankey said: "We share residents’ concerns about water industry practices and so we are determined to make sure that our precious seawater is tested all year round.  

"Working with others, I've asked Southern Water to fund the weekly testing of our seawater between September and April when it is not currently tested.  

"I'm delighted that Southern Water has agreed to do this and has further agreed to partner on a feasibility study to explore increasing access to water fountains in our city parks.  

“We will always hold water companies to account for their national practices and we’ll also work constructively to get the best deal for our residents, businesses and visitors.”

Mr Kyle heralded the testing commitment as a “huge breakthrough” and said: “After the shocking performance of many of the water companies, including our local company Southern Water, I know that some residents have lost confidence in the seawater quality off our beaches.

“When I found out that the Environment Agency tests the water during the bathing season but not between September and May, I was shocked. We all deserve to know if the water is clean and safe all year round.

“It is a huge breakthrough to get a commitment from Southern Water to fund supplementary water testing outside of the summer season. This is something all sea users have been urging me to sort out, so I am thrilled it is now going to happen.

“Crucially, the testing will be independent so residents and visitors can have confidence in the results and the data sets will be publicly available and used to continue to push for improvements in water quality.”

The Argus: Hove MP Peter Kyle praised the commitment as a 'huge breakthrough'Hove MP Peter Kyle praised the commitment as a 'huge breakthrough'

Southern Water and the council have also committed to working on a feasibility study into the introduction of new drinking water fountains for public parks in the city.

Charlie White, head of public affairs and advocacy at Southern Water, said: “We're delighted to be partnering with Brighton and Hove City Council on water quality testing. The bathing waters around Brighton are some of the best in the UK and we want it to remain that way.

“Transparency and an evidence-based focus on water quality is vital so that residents and businesses have reassurance on the health and safety of their rivers and seas.

"Many of our colleagues at Southern Water live in Brighton and Hove and swim in the sea, so we all care deeply about driving positive change for our environment.

“We know that our customers and communities use the water all year round, which is why we're trialling several pilots in the south to provide free citizen science kits – meaning water quality testing can be carried out any day, any time.”