Five of Southend-on-Sea's beaches will be proudly flying prestigious Blue Flags once again following the announcement made by Keep Britain Tidy. The Blue Flag awards, managed by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, is an international award for well-managed beaches with excellent water quality.
East Beach, Shoebury Common Beach, Thorpe Bay Beach, Westcliff Beach and Three Shells Beach have all retained their Blue Flag this summer, highlighting the quality of the beaches in the country's newest City.
In addition, all Southend beaches have once again been presented with a Seaside Award by Keep Britain Tidy. The Seaside Award recognises beaches that are well-managed and maintained. This includes Bell Wharf Beach, where bathing had previously been discouraged.
The news comes after the recent launch of the new, eco-friendly electric pier trains, with the council confident the summer will be a record-breaking one for the pier and for local businesses, as the country continues to recover from the pandemic.
Cllr Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment, culture, tourism and planning, said "Receiving these awards for our beaches means that our residents and visitors can be sure that they are clean and safe and meet the highest environmental standards. Southend-on-Sea welcomes over 7 million visitors per year, and with Blue Flag and Seaside Awards flying above our beaches, residents and visitors will know that they are the best in the country. The flags attract visitors, and with us now being a City, this combination will prove a huge boost for local businesses through the popular summer months. We want everyone to enjoy our beaches and help keep them award winning. We are all aware of the damage rubbish causes to marine life and the quality of the water, so we can all personally make a difference by disposing of rubbish responsibly when visiting the seaside or taking it home if bins are full."
Sophie England, in Southend's local newspaper, the Echo, also reported on this great success:
"Southend's glorious beaches have received high praise on the international stage for their cleanliness, safety and variety. Five of the city's beaches have been handed the prestigious Blue Flag award, which recognises the best coastal spots in the world.
"East Beach, Shoebury Common, Thorpe Bay, Three Shells Beach and Westcliff Bay are the five beaches that have been recognised.
"Inspectors from Keep Britain Tidy assessed the quality of the beaches, the way they are managed, and the facilities on offer to the tourists who visit Southend every year. Part of the criteria to win the award also included safety measures and services.
Business bosses hope the Blue Flag awards for Southend's beaches will help continue to make the city a big draw for visitors.
Paul Thompson, owner of Pebbles One in Southend, said: "I think it is a really good thing. Our beaches often get the Blue Flag, and it is always encouraging to hear, as it great for the town and great for businesses in the area too."
The news comes as campaigners continue to raise concerns surrounding bacteria levels in the water off Southend's beaches, with campaigners insisting regularly testing should be carried out to detect E-Coli.
In a poll on Facebook, Echo readers chose their favourite beaches, with Shoebury Common and Thorpe Bay singled out for praise.
Debra Williams said: "Shoebury Common, up by Uncle Toms Cabin is lovely and clean. There is plenty of parking and very few tourists and day-trippers."
Mick Smashy Mcgrane said: "Thorpe Bay beach is the best because there are beach huts, fish and chips, you can feed the seagulls, and it has great views too."
Allison Ogden-Newton OBE, Keep Britain Tidy's chief executive, added: "The success of these beaches in reaching the very high standards demanded is testament to all those who have worked so hard to protect and improve our blue spaces from beach managers and volunteers to local residents and businesses. The huge commitment needed to maintain marvellous beaches worthy of these awards cannot be underestimated. People who visit a beach flying a Blue Flag can be assured the beach will be clean, safe, and meet the highest environmental standards, as well as international bathing water quality standards."
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