Sunderland beaches get quality awards – despite losing Blue Flag status

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TWO beaches stripped of their coveted Blue Flag status last year have today been rewarded for their high standards.

The seafront at Roker and Seaburn suffered a double blow last year when Keep Britain Tidy revoked its Blue Flag status because of concerns over the quality of the bathing water.

While an area must wait four years before it can regain Blue Flag status, the group has recognised both beaches with its new Seaside Award for their “high standard of beach management” and improved water quality. Across the UK, 113 beaches were given the award.

Councillor John Kelly welcomed the adwards.

“We can all be proud that Roker and Seaburn beaches are nationally recognised as two of the best in the country in the Seaside Awards 2013,” he said.

“Like a lot of other beaches around the coast, we temporarily lost Blue Flag status last year, but we are determined to apply again, which none of us were allowed to do this year.”

He added: “Seaburn and Roker attract thousands of visitors every year, and we hope these Seaside Award flags will attract even more – people who perhaps have never been to our seafront before, but might now be encouraged to come along and see for themselves what fantastic facilities we have in our city.”

However, seafront campaigners have expressed disbelief at the award, telling the Echo it is misleading the public.

Businessman Bob Latimer said: “It’s frightening and shocking because the public will place their faith in what they are being told, and that’s wrong.

“Families will go down there believing the water quality is first class.

“If that’s what the council want to believe, then fine, but it’s misinforming the public.”

Margaret Alexander, from Fulwell, said she saw human waste in the sea as recently as this weekend and is concerned for the safety of children who might swim in it.

“It frightens me that they will trumpet this award and people will have their kids in the sea,” she said.

“The banner will say this is a quality beach, and that’s wrong.

“You can see it in the colour of the water – it’s horrible.”