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Businessman urges Cornwall Council to apply for blue flags

Rob Harris, Ann's Cottage Photo:

A Cornish businessman says he's angry Cornwall Council is no longer signing up to the Blue flag beach scheme.

Rob Harris of Ann's Cottage surf stores says the decision not to apply for the status for four council owned beaches could impact on the tourism industry.

I was shocked by the Council’s decision not to apply, and despite having admiration for several of the community groups who have since taken it upon themselves to apply for the Blue Flag next year, working hard to meet the criteria, the Council owns these beaches, and I feel the responsibility should lie with them. I’ve had countless people in our stores as appalled as I am ready to take action.

– Rob Harris, Ann's Cottage
Carbis Bay, Cornwall Credit: ITV West Country

Only the privately owned beach at Carbis Bay now has a Blue Flag. Last year council owned beaches at Polzeath, Gyllngvase, Porthmeor and Porthtowan all achieved the status, by meeting strict rules on beach cleanliness and management.

Administration of the scheme costs £820 per beach along with associated running costs of meeting the criteria. Cornwall Council says it can no longer justify the costs at a time of austerity.

Securing Blue Flag status for a beach sends an important message to members of the public about the level of cleanliness and safety and we recognise the concerns of the tourist industry over the decision not to apply for Blue Flag awards for the three beaches owned by the Council this year. While the fee for actually applying for the award is relatively small, the associated staff and administration costs to gather all of the information required to submit an application substantially increases this amount. The scale of the financial challenge facing the Council over the next four years means that we are being forced to look at all areas of our budget and work with partners and the private, voluntary and community sectors to develop different ways of delivering a number of services. We are continuing to look at alternative ways of delivering the Blue Flag award in Cornwall and recently had an offer from Keep Britain Tidy to provide training for groups to learn what is involved in applying for Blue Flag status and how to apply. We are already working positively with community groups, businesses and town and parish councils to enable applications to be submitted for next year and are happy to meet with any other individuals and groups who want to be involved in these discussions.

– Cornwall Council

In contrast, the neighbouring county of Devon has eight beaches with Blue Flag status, including Dawlish Warren and Salcombe.

You can watch Kathy Wardle's report about the Blue Flag appeal here: