Suffolk: Visitors continue to grow without beach awards

Suffolk Coastal District say that there have been continued growth in visitor numbers, even without

Suffolk Coastal District say that there have been continued growth in visitor numbers, even without the Blue Flag awards. - Credit: Archant

Council chiefs have said visitor numbers have continued to grow without the help of an international award.

Today the charity Keep Britian Tidy have awarded 10 Blue Flag awards in the East of England, with beaches in the Suffolk Coastal district not receiving any of the awards. The beaches have been rewarded for their facilities, cleanliness, and meeting the highest international standard of water quality.

The winners in the region were Southwold Pier and Lowestoft South Claremont Pier in Suffolk, Clacton, Dovercourt Bay, Frinton and Brightlingsea in Essex, and Cromer, Sea Palling, Sheringham and Mundesley in Norfolk.

Richard McIlwain, Programmes Director for the charity said: “It’s fantastic news for everyone who loves visiting the seaside that 10 beaches will be flying a flag in the East of England that guarantees the public the best facilities and the cleanest beaches this summer.”

Four years ago former Suffolk Coastal district councillor Colin Hart said that he didn’t believe the Blue Flag attracted many visitors to Felixstowe.

He said the extra criteria demanded by the organisers went too far and were not part of the original spirit of the awards, and decided not to enter.

Yesterday, Andy Smith, deputy leader of Suffolk Coastal, said: “Suffolk Coastal takes great pride in the quality of its beaches. Our water and beaches are very clean, plus we offer excellent facilities.

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“This is borne out by the fact that Felixstowe has routinely achieved ‘Recommended’ status in the Marine Conservation Society’s Good Beach Guide, which is the highest classification.

“Several years ago, we made a policy decision not to apply for Blue Flag status (which involves significant costs), as well as meeting the Marine Conservation Society’s criteria, but rather to focus our resources in improving our offering to visitors, such as investing in extending toilet opening hours.

“During this time, Suffolk Coastal has seen a consistent growth in the number of visitors, so I see no reason to review our original decision at this time.”