UNITED Utilities has urged people to use water sparingly to avoid a hose pipe ban.

A UU spokesman said there has been a 'massive' increase in water consumption across the region, with an extra half-a-billion litres used on Saturday and on Sunday.

The spokesman said: "We urgently need your help and support to avoid a hosepipe ban.

"You can help us by turning off your garden sprinklers, not using your hose pipes, not washing your car and taking shorter showers and not baths this weekend.

"The demand is so high, particularly during peak times, that we are struggling to get enough water around the system quick enough.

"If we can all do our bit this will reduce the risk of lower water pressure or no water at all.

"Thank you, we really appreciate your help."