BLACKPOOL’S failure to improve its beaches spells a “looming catastrophe” for the town.
That was the message from Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard who hit out after three Fylde beaches failed to meet quality standards.
The latest figures released today, which confirm the dire state of water at Blackpool North, Blackpool South and Cleveleys beaches, mean the resort is still haunted by the threat of warning signs advising visitors not to swim off the town’s coast.
Those could be put up in just over two years’ time and Mr Maynard stressed how vital it was that something is done quickly.
He said: “Given the importance of our tourism industry, no-one should underestimate the looming catastrophe of having to put signs up saying Blackpool and Cleveleys have beaches which are too dangerous to bathe in.”
Six bathing areas in the North West failed to meet the standards set out in the European Directive, which will come into force in 2015.
The Environment Agency puts the failures down to local waters being vulnerable to the effects of very heavy rainfall as pollution is washed from cities and rural areas into rivers and streams.
Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden said the problem of pollution was a complex one which needed to be addressed by all local authorities in the areas affected, along with the Environment Agency and United Utilities.
He said: “This is disappointing news.
“We cannot afford to have, in Blackpool, consequences like this which are not of our making.”
The results have been described as ‘depressing’ by the Marine Conservation Society’s pollution programme manager, Dr Robert Keirle, who said they were among the worst in the UK.
He will be at Friday’s Turning Tides partnership meeting to demand an increase in the pace of work at the region’s beaches – to reassure the public the Environment Agency, United Utilities, farmers and councils in the group were doing all they could.
Coun Gary Coleman, cabinet member for urban development at Blackpool Council, said the quality of bathing waters was a key priority and locals could help keep beaches clean.
He said: “It’s a difficult challenge but it’s one we are facing head on. It’s been encouraging to see local businesses do their bit and the recent beach cleans organised by the Sea Life Centre have seen hundreds of volunteers take an active role. It’s fantastic to see the support out there.”