Blue Flag beaches drop in Norfolk

It was a case of celebrations and commiserations for the region's top seaside resorts as the Blue Flag award winners were announced yesterday.

It was a case of celebrations and commiserations for the region's top seaside resorts as the Blue Flag award winners were announced yesterday.

Last year East Anglia had 18 winners but this year that number has fallen to 14 with two popular Norfolk beaches failing to secure the accolade after winning it last season.

The awards are given for clean beaches following stringent tests for water quality and safety.

In Norfolk, Cromer, Mundesley, Sea Palling, and Sheringham made the grade, and in Suffolk beaches either side of Claremont Pier in Lowestoft secured the award, along with Southwold and Felixstowe South.

Paul Ingham, countryside and parks manager for North Norfolk District Council, said: "North Norfolk has an extremely good record for the cleanliness and safety of its beaches, and the water is some of the cleanest in the country. We are delighted that Cromer, Mundesley, Sea Palling and Sheringham have once again been successful in achieving this internationally recognised award."

Asa Morrison, principal service manager for culture, tourism and sport for Waveney District Council, said: "This is excellent news as our beaches are one of the primary reasons visitors come to the Sunrise Coast. To receive this accolade for the fifth year running is of great benefit to the local tourism industry."

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But the picture was not so bright at Yarmouth and Hunstanton as both failed in their bids for the award this year despite securing it last year. Barry Stone, Yarmouth Borough Council's deputy leader, said: "It is very disappointing to lose the flag but it does not mean to say our beaches are not of the highest standard and our bathing water perfectly safe. It gives us an incentive to make sure we regain the flag next year."

Elizabeth Nockolds, cabinet member for culture at West Norfolk Borough Council, said Hunstanton lost out because its bathing water quality did not meet the standards necessary for a Blue Flag.

"This is disappointing news for Hunstanton," she said. "Unfortunately, testing is carried out on pre-specified days and the results can be affected by the weather, which is not something that we are able to influence.

"Since we received the results we have been working with the Environment Agency and Anglian Water to investigate the reasons why in July, with record temperatures and visitor numbers, all the results were good, but then in August, heavy periods of rain seemed to affect the results.

"Our Beach Patrol staff work to keep the beaches clean and safe, and there are many other tourist attractions which make Hunstanton a great place to visit."

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