The cratered and debris-strewn streets of this once great metropolis stand witness to a 30 years’ war between private profit and the public good. Cars and buses are barely able to pass and life for many has become a struggle simply to get into work. The Sceptred Isle of Shakespeare is lapped by sewage and a besieged government has stepped in to guarantee that the water supply will continue.

(Enough! Ed.)

I could carry on, but you get the picture.

My partner has a simple commute each morning but, for months now, the dislocation caused by Thames Water’s excavations has made it an uncomfortable lottery. The information and updates proved by TfL have been virtually non-existent as they juggle rerouted, delayed and cancelled services.

Ham & High: David Winskill blames Thames Water for causing travel chaosDavid Winskill blames Thames Water for causing travel chaos (Image: David Winskill)

This recurring chaos is down to one company - Thames Water; two governments - Thatcher’s privatising Tories and Blair’s blind-eye-turning, soft-touch regulation Labour; and one regulator – Ofwat.

It shouldn’t have been a surprise when Thames Water announced that it was in financial difficulties, but it was still shocking. Since privatisation it has been flogging off property and borrowing money (now owing £14.7 billion) to shower “investors” with dividends like there is no tomorrow.

Last year a study showed that, since privatisation, the water industry has outstanding borrowing of £54 billion but has distributed £65.9 billion in dividends.

That capital should have been used (as Thatcher envisioned) to renew and modernise the Victorian system. Instead, a series of owners saw it as an opportunity to enrich themselves and allow the system to worsen while they polluted our rivers and seashores with raw filth.

Hopefully, for Londoners, there will be no tomorrow for an outfit that has become a sort of Ponzi scheme.

Showing that she has a brass neck and matching cast iron cahoonas, Cathryn Ross (the new interim joint chief executive CEO of Thames Water, outrageously recycled from a career at Ofwat) told Labour MP Darren Jones (impressively forensic) at a Commons Select hearing that “The only source of… funding in the current model is the consumer.”

The company is financially and morally bust and, to stop this leakage of the public’s money into private bank accounts and start the desperately needed remedial works, Thames Water must be taken back into public ownership.

As Mrs T once said, there is no alternative.

  • David Winskill is a Crouch End resident and campaigner.