TWO beautiful beaches have been awarded top marks for their cleanliness.
Keep Britain Tidy today announced that the North East has eight award-winning beaches – two in Sunderland.
Roker and Seaburn beaches have each been named as two of the best, not just in the country, but in the world.
The award comes as Sunderland City Council gears up for a busy summer on the coast, with thousands already flocking to the area thanks to the spring sunshine.
There has also been an increase in numbers of visitors to the coastline, with many families opting to spend the school holidays at home rather than going away.
Flying the flag for North East seaside resorts in 2011 are Whitley Bay, Tynemouth Longsands South, Tynemouth King Edward’s Bay, Sandhaven in South Shields, Roker and Seaburn in Sunderland, each with a Blue Flag and Quality Coast Award.
Jessica and Phil Martin, who live in Dykelands Road, Seaburn, said the beach is the main reason they moved to the area.
Phil, 38, who has two children, aged four and seven, said: “We all love the coast and there is something very special about Sunderland’s beaches.
“You can go to many parts of the world and not find something as beautiful as what is actually on your own doorstep. I think we should feel very lucky to live here.”
Councillor George Howe, of the Fulwell ward, believes the beaches are a huge asset to the people of Sunderland but have been neglected for too long.
He said: “There is a lot of controversy about the new work going on down at the seafront, including the new seating that is being put along the promenade, as well as problems with the Pirate Park and the Lambton Worm site.”
But homeowner Michael Mason, 39, of Seaburn Dene, believes the beaches are something everyone in Wearside should celebrate.
He said: “I run along Seaburn Beach every Saturday morning when it’s quiet and it’s a fantastic place to be.”
Now tourism bosses are urging more people to visit the coast.
Phil Barton, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy which is responsible for the Blue Flag scheme, said: “Traditional beach holidays in this country were always centred on our seaside resorts and we urge holiday-makers to rekindle their passion for the wonderful coastline and resorts throughout the North East.
“Our beaches are wonderful places to visit and that’s official.
“With eight beaches in the region receiving six Blue Flags and eight Quality Coast Awards, what better way to holiday in the area than to visit one of the local award-winning beaches.
“The continuing high standards of these beaches are testament to the hard work carried out by the beach managers throughout the year in order to provide clean and safe beaches for everyone to enjoy, whether you live on the coast or are a visitor to the area.”
There are 146 award-winning beaches in England this year – with 70 Blue Flags and 108 Quality Coast Awards between them.