Blue Flags for beaches

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BEACHES in the borough are among the best in Europe after once again scooping a top accolade.

Three beaches – Whitley Bay (south), Tynemouth Long Sands (south) and King Edward’s Bay – have all been awarded Blue Flag status in recognition of their clean water, litter-free sands and top-rated facilities.

It means that North Tyneside yet again has more awards for its beaches than any other area in the north east.

The three beaches, along with Cullercoats Bay, also earned Quality Coast Awards, which commend those that are clean and where visitors can enjoy a range of activities.

Cullercoats Bay narrowly missed out on a Blue Flag for the first time in five years.

Mayor Linda Arkley said: “Our beaches are a fantastic asset and a huge draw for visitors to the borough.

“We’re delighted that they’ve been awarded Blue Flags, which offer a real mark of quality.

“However, we’re not complacent and want our beaches to improve further.

“That is one of the reasons we recently formed the new ‘Beach User Group’, so the people who use and enjoy our beaches can have their say on how they’re run.

“Naturally, we’re disappointed that Cullercoats Bay narrowly missed out on a Blue Flag, but I know our team is determined to ensure the flag is flying again next year.”

The water quality testing is carried out by the Environment Agency on a weekly basis during the bathing season, from May to September.

A damaged drain above Cullercoats Bay was repaired by Northumbrian Water in 2009, which led to the improved water quality results and the Blue Flag in 2010.

However, the final water quality test in September 2010 revealed that, although the water met the European Union imperative bathing water quality standard, it had narrowly missed the Blue Flag standard.

Northumbrian Water is currently using a number of cameras to investigate a culvert above the bay, which is believed to be the source of the problem.

In the meantime, water from the culvert is being redirected into Northumbrian Water’s sewer system to prevent it entering the bay.

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