This is how Blackpool's beach is kept clean year-round

Meet the man who surely has one of the toughest cleaning jobs in the country.

By Shelagh Parkinson
Tuesday, 11th June 2019, 1:13 pm
Jez Evans, head of waste and environmental operations at Blackpool Council
Jez Evans, head of waste and environmental operations at Blackpool Council

For Jez Evans is in charge of ensuring Blackpool's beaches are immaculate every day - and that means a round-the-clock battle with both humanity and nature.

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Blackpool loses Blue Flag status but our beaches across the coast receive impres...

Meanwhile millions of visitors a year need to be persuaded not to drop litter on the sands or leave the remains of their beach picnic behind.

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Jez Evans, head of waste and environmental operations at Blackpool Council

This year Blackpool's South Beach lost its coveted Blue Flag after water samples marginally failed to meet standards set by Keep Britain Tidy, although the accolade also reflects beach facilities and safety.

But the resort's four beaches - South, Central, North and Bispham - were given Seaside Awards by the environmental charity celebrating their quality.

Blackpool's seven miles of sands are key to the town's tourism, but also bring an environmental responsibility.

Which is why the beach is maintained 365 days a year with action ranging from removing algae from the Spanish steps to sweeping the sands using a tractor and mechanical rake.

Beach cleaning at Blackpool

Members of the council's 60-strong street cleansing team work on the Prom emptying the 250 bins on the west side of the tram tracks, and picking up rubbish.

Their latest tool is a jingle played from the litter patrol vans urging folk not to drop rubbish, while fines will be handed out to those who persistently flout the rules.

Dogs are also banned from the beach between North Pier and the Solaris in South Shore from May to September.

Jez said: "What we aim is to get the beach and the Promenade tidy as soon as people have had their breakfasts and are coming out of the hotels, so the target time is between 8am and 9am.

Blackpool Beach

"My favourite time is when the beach has just been freshly raked.

"Last year a really positive step was the use of the jingle sending the Keep Blackpool Tidy message our from the vehicles.

"When people heard it they were grabbing litter and bringing it to the vehicle, and that interaction made a big difference.

"At busy times we also put out 30 Keep Blackpool Tidy flags.

"Often on the Prom people aren't deliberately littering, but perhaps the wind comes along and blows a serviette away.

"However if someone is deliberately littering we will use enforcement action.

"This year also as part of the public space protection order no glass is allowed on the beach.

"We don't want people not to enjoy themselves but accidents do happen and on the Spanish steps glass doesn't bounce.

"If a bottle breaks the glass ends up on the part of the beach where children are playing and making their sand castles. So this is important for the safety of children."

Regularly pressure washing algae from the Spanish steps is also a health and safety exercise as well as keeping the sea defences looking their best.

But some of the elements which impact beach cleanliness and water quality are more difficult to control.

Jez said: "Water run-off from inland affects the water quality, and we've found roe deer and sheep in the water, and we've also had palm oil.

"Every day sets its challenges but the Promenade is Blackpool's shop window, and all our team take pride in keeping it clean."

Town hall chiefs are optimistic Blackpool will be able to regain its Blue Flag, and Coun Fred Jackson, cabinet member for environment, says safeguarding the bathing waters remains a priority.

He said: "We were very disappointed we didn't keep our Blue Flag and from what we were told by the Environment Agency we lost it on perhaps one bad reading at the very end of the season after some dreadful weather conditions.

"But when you look at the full picture Blackpool has four beaches of high quality and both visitors and residents can be confident in that when they spend time on them.

"The council works closely with Love My Beach, Keep Britain Tidy, volunteers and hoteliers and everyone has a part to play.

"It's a combination of a lot of small things which affect the quality of the water, and one thing we need to re-emphasise is the 'three ps' - pee, poo and paper.

"They are the only things people should put down the toilet to prevent pollution.

"I'm confident we will gain the Blue Flag again, but that doesn't mean the beaches and sea are not already of the highest quality that they have been for many years."