Thames Water bosses could face a challenge from councils across Thames Valley, under an initiative that could be launched from Bracknell Forest.

Under the proposals, Bracknell Forest Council’s overview and scrutiny commission could seek to work with other councils on taking the water company to task over sewage discharges into rivers.

Thames Water discharged sewage water into waterways more than 8,000 times in 2022, according to data published by the Environment Agency in April.

It also has £14 billion in debt, and earlier this year sought £2.5 billion investment from its shareholders to help pay it off – without which it says it can’t fix the infrastructure needed to stop leaks and sewage discharges.

READ MORE: Thames Water official says sewage discharges ‘unacceptable’

Bracknell Forest councillors voted unanimously last month to recommend that the scrutiny commission “commits to work with other Local Authorities across the Thames Valley to challenge the failures of Thames Water to collectively minimise the environmental damage we are all facing.”

Councillors slammed the privatised water company as they debated the proposal last month.

Mike Forster, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the council said: “Our water industry used to be a nationalised entity. And since it’s been privatised it has paid out 65 billion worth of dividends against investment of 60 billion.

“We’re going to end up with the most enormous water bills to pay for the work that has gone in those dividends.”

Labour councillor Ryan Frost agreed, adding: “Our fragmented and privatised water system has failed us.

“It has prioritised shareholders over residents of the borough for far too long and I think that it will soon come to pass that Thames Water, given the severe debts and problems laid out, will soon come into public hands.”

READ MORE: Answers demanded from Thames Water over sinkholes

The commission is a body made up of councillors that scrutinise decisions council leaders are planning to take, and holds “deep dive reviews” on local issues before making recommendations to the rest of the council.

Its members could instead vote to launch a review on Thames Water without other councils via one of its panels, under an alternative recommendation put to them by council officers.

It follows a lengthy debate between Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors at last month’s meeting over how best to take on Thames Water.

The Conservatives wanted the Overview and Scrutiny Commission to take on the job alone, while the Lib Dems wanted the council itself to try and work with other Thames Valley local authorities.

Councillors eventually voted unanimously to recommend that the commission reaches out to other councils, as a compromise suggested by Labour Council leader Mary Temperton.