A POLLUTION expert has warned a blue flag for Blackpool remains a distant dream – and has accused the council of failing to take the problem seriously enough.
Blackpool’s beaches, along with St Annes, have repeatedly failed to meet basic standards for water cleanliness and have been roundly criticised by the Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) Good Beach Guide.
Beaches which fail to meet basic standards in the run-up to 2015 will see swimming banned, something which could have a major affect on the resort’s tourism industry.
And MCS pollution programme manager Dr Robert Keirle does not believe Blackpool Council is doing enough to halt the slide.
A special water group has been established, but Dr Keirle said his offers of help have been ignored and he has seen no evidence of any work from the group to turn the dirty sea picture around.
He said: “I’m still getting the impression the council is not taking this seriously enough.
“We have absolutely no idea what is going on with this group because they are not making anything public.
“I’ve outlined all the ways we can assist them, offering our services for free, and we’ve had absolutely no take-up.”
The Fylde Peninsula Water Management Group involves all three local councils, Lancashire County Council, the Environment Agency and United Utilities, who have come together in a bid to help local beaches meet the new, stricter European Bathing Water Directive.
It states by 2015 all bathing waters must be classed as “sufficient”, or signs will go up banning swimming.
Sampling for the new standards has already begun, and Dr Keirle added: “Blackpool can be saved, but at the moment I’m not entirely sure we’ve got all the right people involved in saving it.”
Blackpool councillor Gary Coleman, on behalf of the Fylde Peninsula Water Management Group, said: “We appreciate Dr Keirle’s advice on improving how the group works and are working with him to help improve bathing water quality in the Fylde coast.
“We are doing some really important work, including trying to reduce the flow of bacteria washed from roads, drains and farmland into the sea and are happy to keep Dr Keirle regularly informed of our progress.
“We have also recently invited Dr Keirle to present at a local Bathing Water Summit in September, and hope he is able to attend and share advice from the MCS with the group, to help us move forward with this work.”