Mock blue plaque 'honouring' Kettering MP's sewage vote stolen the day after it's installed

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Campaigners had put the plaque up over the weekend

A satirical blue plaque marking Kettering MP Philip Hollobone’s vote in a controversial sewage debate was stolen the day after it was installed.

On Saturday (January 28) environment campaigners, including those from Extinction Rebellion (XR), unveiled the plaque near a section of the River Ise.

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It had ‘honoured’ Mr Hollobone’s 2021 vote against a proposal that would have placed a legal duty on companies not to pump waste into rivers.

Environment campaigners at Saturday's plaque unveilingEnvironment campaigners at Saturday's plaque unveiling
Environment campaigners at Saturday's plaque unveiling

But the day after it was installed at a spoof ceremony the mock plaque – as well as one in Corby – was taken down.

An XR spokesperson said: "The blue plaques were just highlighting what our MPs have done and to steal the plaques really does smack of the state of free speech in this country. We have no idea who may have taken them.”

Last summer the Environmental Audit Committee warned that only 14 per cent of English rivers meet good ecological status, with pollution contributing to a dangerous ‘chemical cocktail’ coursing through our waterways.

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In October 2021, a proposal from the Lords to the Environment Bill that would have placed legal duties on companies to reduce discharges was defeated. The 265 MPs to vote against the proposal included Mr Hollobone, Peter Bone (Wellingborough) and Tom Pursglove (Corby).

The plaque was later stolenThe plaque was later stolen
The plaque was later stolen

Mr Hollobone said eliminating storm overflows – introduced by the Victorians as a ‘safety valve’ for sewerage systems – would cost about £600bn.

He said that it was unacceptable that water companies used far them too often and that the Government’s solution was to impose ‘strict limits’ on when they could do so.

He said: “Extinction Rebellion’s pathetic publicity stunt is yet more ill-conceived and badly informed attention-seeking behaviour from this lunatic fringe group deliberately designed to mislead local residents on an issue which all of us regard as important.

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“The measures Extinction Rebellion want to see would lead to untreated sewage backing up into people’s toilets and flooding homes during periods of heavy rainfall and lead to increases in everyone’s domestic water bills of £800 a year.

“I challenge Extinction Rebellion to put up a candidate at the next General Election in Kettering. I doubt they will do so, because they enjoy only minority public support and prefer to pursue their extremist agenda through often criminal public protest that all too frequently results in unwanted and costly disruption to the law-abiding majority.”

But Dr Olivia Stephenson, spokesperson for Kettering XR, said: “We’ve watched in horror as our rivers and seas have become open sewers since October 2021, when the Government voted down a proposal to stop water companies pumping waste directly into our rivers (and seas).

"They justified this by claiming that the proposal was too expensive. These plaques shine a light on the Government’s failure to protect our waterways, the natural world and all of us.”

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A veteran litter picker was heartbroken after finding ‘more than 20,000 pieces of waste in 100m’ in the River Ise after 2020’s Christmas floods.

Cllr Emily Fedorowycz (Green) said: “These are all of our rivers, where dogs and kids used to play, where wild swimmers used to swim and people used to paddle. This is under real threat of being lost. It will be such a sad situation if we let that happen.