BOSSES at Southern Water were today remaining tight-lipped over the sudden resignation of the company's managing director.

Stuart Derwent quit his post after 32 years service, as revealed in later editions of yesterday's Daily Echo.

He stepped down just 24 hours after the Daily Echo highlighted huge price increases in the county's water bills.

It has now emerged that the firm's human resources director, Eileen Rowe, has also quit.

The resignations have come at the same time that thousands of customers are receiving their water bills showing a marked price increase on last year with many customers seeing a jump of £40.

Southern Water has repeatedly refused to comment on the resignations but has replaced Mr Derwent with the company's chairman, Bob Thian, until a permanent new boss can be found.

Mr Thian was appointed chairman of Southern Water last year and was previously group chief executive of the North West Water Group. He was unavailable for comment.

Alan Whitehead, MP for Southampton Test, said: "Mr Derwent has had a long record in the water industry and made large contributions. It would be a good idea for all of us to know more about the resignations.

"It would also be good to know more about the strategy Southern Water is adopting by front loading customer bills."

Southern Water has been granted permission to increase the average cost of water bills by £65 over the next five years.

The firm has opted to raise the bill by £40 this year with the remaining £25 following over the next four years.

The new water prices come into effect on April 1 with the average household price rising to £299.