Two senior bosses at a water company covering Oxfordshire say they will forgo their bonuses this year over poor performance.

Last year, Thames Water chief executive Sarah Bentley received £496,000 in performance-related pay.

Chief finance officer Alastair Cochran was paid £298,000 in performance-related bonuses for the period as well.

But the firm said it had made insufficient progress over customer service and sewage discharges.

The company said "extraordinary energy costs, coupled with two severe weather events" had hit customer and environmental performance from 2022 to 2023.

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Ms Bentley said: "I am proud of the work my team is doing in starting to address the poor state of our asset base and unacceptable standards of service for our customers.

“Nevertheless, the turnaround plan is not yet where I want it to be primarily due to significant headwinds from extraordinary energy costs, coupled with two severe weather events.

"These have hit our customer and environmental performance. Against this backdrop it simply doesn’t feel right to take my bonus this year.”

Thames Water said it is in the second year of an eight-year turnaround plan to address ageing and deteriorating infrastructure, a legacy of under-investment and poor performance.

It said in the last 12 months highlights of its performance include the launch of a £1.6bn programme to modernise sewage infrastructure.

It has also relocated its customer call centre, bringing it back from South Africa to Swindon, creating 200 jobs.

And it said it had expanded the leaks repair team to more than 1,000 engineers, enabling them to fix a leak every 7.5 minutes.

It also said it is working on a new performance-related pay structure to be published later this year.

This will better match executive pay to customer service and environmental performance rather than financial results. 

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Ms Bentley said: “At a time when customers and regulators are properly focused on the environmental and service performance of water companies, it is right that England’s biggest water company leads the way in setting a remuneration structure which focuses management on tackling the most pressing challenges.

"These are improving customer service, reducing leaks and focusing on the health of our rivers.”

Bicester Advertiser: Layla Moran involved in protests at Port Meadow regarding Thames WaterLayla Moran involved in protests at Port Meadow regarding Thames Water

In January hundreds of people gathered around Oxfordshire to demand an end to the release of raw sewage into the county’s rivers and streams.

Clean water campaigners were joined by swimmers and councillors at Oxford’s Port Meadow in a protest which was part of a reported 80 Dirty Water demonstrations around the region.

There were also protests in Banbury, Faringdon, Wantage and Witney.

Thames Water did not disclose bonuses for its other directors.