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This programme looks at the way in which decisions about river pollution are taken and how this has changed since newly-formed water authorities took control of water away from local authorities in... 1974. The programme looks at the different styles of decision-making within the two bodies, and how this contributes to different policies being adopted. The programme highlights issues of accountability to the public and the effective allocation of resources. To understand the problem in more detail, the River Mersey is taken as an example of a heavily polluted river. The causes of this pollution and the effects on neighbouring communities are examined in the light of the different policies discussed in the programme. Taking part in these discussions are members of the North West Water Authority, members of Merseyside County Council and the Director of the Civic Trust for the North West. The programme is introduced by David Greengrass of The Open University.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: D203, Decision making in Britain
Item code: D203; 11; 1977
First transmission date: 11-07-1971
Published: 1977
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:24:00
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Producer: Roger Penfound
Contributor: David Greengrass
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Cost effective planning; Environmental control; Political accountability; River Mersey; River pollution
Footage description: David Greengrass introduces the programme from New Brighton. He describes the pollution problem of the Mersey and how the authorities with responsibility for dealing with this have altered in recent years. Bill Wells, local councillor, describes how pollution has ruined New Brighton as a holiday resort. David Greengrass, Chairman of the Civic Trust for the North West, identifies three main pollutants in the river: industrial waste, fertilisers and domestic effluent. Much of this cannot be properly treated due to the decay of the sewer system. David Greengrass explains the responsibility of local government for pollution control prior to 1974. Bill Sefton, former leader of Liverpool City Council, argues that local authorities did not have sufficient resources to look after the sewage system properly. John Lloyd, director of the North West Water Authority, states that when he took over responsibility for water resources in 1974, facilities for dealing with sewage had been severely neglected. Geoff Watford, principle design engineer for NWWA shows David Greengrass around a dilapidated sewage works pointing out the problems it presents and the investment needed. He then shows David Greengrass around a new sewage works explaining how it works, providing a healthier environment for the work force and putting out cleaner water into the ship canal. John Lloyd argues that it makes sense to bring all the aspects of the water cycle together under one administration. Bill Sefton claims that the system created by the Liverpool Borough Council was efficient. Proof of this can be found in the way the council installed the Ford factory at Halewood so efficiently. Water supply problems cannot be considered in isolation from all the other problems of local government. A further problem is that because the water authority is so large, democratic control is inadequate. The bodies represented on the authority have no shared interests. John Lloyd argues that the authority is accountable to its members who are nominated by local or central government. Councillor Bill Wells states that there is insufficient democratic control. He describes the way in which the authority works and the geographical problems its size presents. John Lloyd argues that the Authority is publicly accountable both through local government and through parliament. Local requirements however must sometimes give way to the wider regional needs. Audrey Lees, Chief Planner for Merseyside County Council, states that County Councils are still not big enough to have a great deal of influence on water authorities. She would like to see a sub-regional authority which would be open to grassroots pressure. Graham Ashworth argues that the removal of river and pollution control from democratic control is a good change. Bill Wells argues that the NWWA is too far removed from ordinary people. The water authority for the Mersey should consist of people living by the river.
Master spool number: 6HT/72320
Production number: 00525_2339
Videofinder number: 3411
Available to public: no