WATER bosses should hand back their bonuses unless they clean up their act on pollution in Test Valley rivers.

This is the message from campaigners who have created a petition calling on Southern Water chiefs who were awarded more than £800,000 in incentives last year.

Ian McAulay, chief executive of Southern Water, was given a bonus of £550,900 while its chief financial officer was handed £290,000. This took their annual pay packet to over £1million and £650,000 respectively.

The company was fined a record-breaking £90,000 for polluting rivers and waterways in Hampshire, Kent and Sussex between 2010 and 2015.

In Test Valley, the water company was criticised for pumping sewage into chalk streams. Southern Water said it would be taking remedial action.

Andover Councillor Luigi Gregori, of the Test Valley Liberal Democrats, has set up a petition demanding bosses pay back their bonuses.

Speaking to The Advertiser, he said: “Irrespective of political allegiance, we need to hold Southern Water executives to account. Destroying our beautiful environment here in Hampshire and getting a bonus for the effort is not good enough”.

The Lib Dems said that the company’s performance should not merit bonuses of such a size, with Cllr Celia Dowden, leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Test Valley Borough Council, said: “When we are facing a climate crisis, there should be no rewards for polluting our planet. If the executives of Southern Water do not take serious action to clean up their act, then they must return their bonuses."

“The Liberal Democrats’ petition is an opportunity for residents of Test Valley and Southampton to raise their voice and make clear to Southern Water that we will not accept such a careless attitude to our rivers and coastal areas. I urge as many people as possible to sign.”

Southern Water did not respond to the Advertiser’s request for comment. Speaking previously, a spokesman said it had made “profound changes” in light of the pollution incidents.

The petition is at 469 signatures at the time of writing, and can be found here: https://www.testvalleylibdems.org.uk/southern-water-bonuses.