Work to tackle the river pollution affecting Bourton-on-the-Water has begun.

The first meetings have finally taken place after Gloucestershire County Council voted to take “urgent action” to solve the issue, which affects numerous rivers across the county, over a year ago.

The decision came after it was found that water companies had flooded the county’s rivers with raw sewage.

Councillor for Bourton-on-the-Water Paul Hodgkinson was stunned when he realised what damage had been done to the River Windrush, which runs through the village.

He said: “I was shocked to hear how much raw sewage has been released into parts of the River Windrush over the last few years.

“Thames Water have acknowledged they have been doing this but it should only be in extreme circumstances and not regularly.

“There are stretches of the Windrush which are highly polluted and where flora and fauna has been wiped out.

“The Cotswolds deserves better than this.”

The task group has now met twice and is looking to work with lobby groups such as Windrush against Sewage Pollution as well as the Environment Agency and water companies.

In 2019 alone, Severn Trent, Thames Water and Wessex Water discharged into English Rivers for a combined 400,000 hours.

Cotswold Journal: Football in the River is one of the most popular events of the year in Bourton-on-the-WaterFootball in the River is one of the most popular events of the year in Bourton-on-the-Water

The River Windrush in Bourton is a huge part of the village’s tourism, recognised nationally for the annual river football match.

Councillor Hodgkinson is pleased to see action finally being taken.

He said: “I’m delighted that the County Council has finally made good on its promise to get on with the job of cleaning our county’s rivers.

“The inaugural meeting was a critical step to determine the direction this task group would take, and I’m pleased to see that my council colleagues are similarly ambitious in their hopes to hold polluters to account and clean our county’s rivers.

“In the coming weeks and months we’ll be bringing in water companies and expert witnesses to provide their account of why our rivers are choked by pollution, and creating an action plan to make our rivers safe for wildlife and our residents.”