Resort beaches ‘will not close next year’

Crowds on Blackpool beach and promenade
Crowds on Blackpool beach and promenade
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Town hall bosses today angrily denied suggestions Blackpool’s beaches would close from next year.

The Sunday Times reported beaches from St Annes to Fleetwood were on a “threatened closure” list because of sewage contamination in the sea.

But Blackpool Council and the Turning Tides Partnership in the North West say the article is referring to new European Union (EU) directives, due to come into force next year, which could see waters along the Fylde coast lose their designated bathing area status.

Nancy Corbin, spokesman for Turning Tides, said: “It’s a disappointing article, especially when we are working so hard to turn the situation around.

“The EU directive is about the water, not our beaches.”

Under the new, stricter guidelines for water quality, if a beach scores poorly for five years running, advisory signs will be put up advising people against bathing in the sea.

“It doesn’t mean people are not allowed in the sea,” Mrs Corbin added.

“It is just a public health message that it’s 
not recommended.”

Mrs Corbin explained keeping sea water clean was tougher in the North West, which doesn’t get a lot of sunshine to kill bacteria in the sea, and has a lot of rainfall which washes dirt from rural rivers and streams into the sea water.

The quality of the sea water is tested periodically, and last year all Blackpool’s beaches met existing standards for the first time since 2005.

St Annes and Fleetwood beaches were among just five nationally to fail.

Next year, stricter European standards are to be brought in and if they are not met, visitors to Fylde Coast beaches will be advised against swimming in the waters.

Coun Fred Jackson, Blackpool Council cabinet member for urban regeneration, said the way Blackpool was perceived by people across the UK was extremely important to the town.

He added: “Inaccurate articles of this nature by national newspapers are extremely unhelpful.

“As a result, I can confirm we will be seeking a correction. Our beaches will not close in 2015. Our bathing waters are cleaner now than they have been in decades, and we support the EU’s extremely high standard.”

Coun Ed Nash, who represents St Annes on Fylde Council, said: “Across the Fylde coast we are working hard to improve our sea water.

“Our beaches are lovely places to be and we certainly are not going to be closing them.”

Coun John Hodgkinson, Mayor of Wyre, said: “We are doing all we can across Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre to improve our sea water. One of the problems we have is that there are so many rivers in such a short space feeding into the sea depositing pollution.”