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Torbay 'will lose Blue Flags' if budget cuts are given go-ahead

By Herald Express  |  Posted: January 18, 2013

Preston Beach

Preston Beach

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BEACHES in Torbay will lose their Blue Flag status as a result of the council's budget cuts, councillors have been warned.

Torbay currently holds the highest number of Coastal and Blue Flag Award beaches for any resort in England. In 2011, there were 16 Blue Flag awards.

Yesterday, Torbay Council's overview and scrutiny committee considered the proposal to shave £142,000 from the beach services budget. This could include reducing the time beaches are manned.

Sue Cheriton, executive head of residents and visitor services, said: "We have a number of options to consider, we will make a decision in the next four weeks. All the scenarios mean we won't be eligible for a Blue Flag award on any of the beaches. The key thing is the beach has to be supervised from May to September and on that criteria alone we will fail."

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One of the suggestions is the beaches are only manned for eight to 10 weeks in the peak season. The committee discussed whether beaches should be manned at weekends and whether friends groups could be set up to help. The example of the community helping keep a facility open at Shoalstone Pool was cited.

Kevin Helmore, chairman of the Beach Hut Users' Group, told the committee: "The greatest concern we have is beach services and the general appearance of the beaches are probably going to decline. It's beaches which attract people here. If we are not providing an adequate service for people they will vote with their feet and go elsewhere."

He said in a letter to the committee that the council would no longer be able to provide basic services such as deck chair hire or beach hut rentals.

He added: "First aid, dealing with lost children and posting of warning flags in respect of tides or winds may also be missing, therefore affecting public safety."

Mr Helmore said as a coastal location, Torbay depends upon the tourism industry to provide income. "We should not seek to make short-term savings to the detriment of both the tourist industry and the pleasure of local beach users," he said.

Andrew Price, a regular user of Paignton and Preston beaches, said: "We are a seaside resort. I was quite surprised to discover the council is proposing to spend 0.2per cent of its budget on its main capital assets."

Mrs Cheriton said there would be a response service for issues on beaches but not somebody stationed permanently on the beach. The cost of applying a Blue Flag is £600 a beach, she pointed out. The department is looking at providing extra beach huts to raise money and there is a waiting list of 27 for those proposed at Broadsands, it is looking for further concessions such as the wheel in Torquay which is returning next year, and food outlets.

Councillors were told no public toilets would be closed.

Cllr Mark Kingscote said Cornwall has very few Blue Flag beaches and it doesn't stop people going to beaches there.

Mayor Gordon Oliver pointed out support from central Government had been reduced.

Looking after adults and children in Torbay is a statutory duty the council is required to do. Looking after beaches is discretionary.

He said the wheel was returning to Princess Gardens and there would be more than 40 events in the Bay next year. He said the Friends of Shoalstone Pool and the Wreck the World would have to come together to look after Shoalstone pool or it would have to go out to tender. He said no swimming pool makes a profit, it will always need subsidies, but there are opportunities for Shoalstone with community support.

Of the 22 beaches and coves in Torbay nine are staffed. Staff dealt with 2,300 incidents including those requiring first aid. More than 1,000 beach huts are provided on seasonal and short lets, and there is a 'significant' waiting list.

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  • SidneyNuff  |  January 23 2013, 9:57AM

    Excellent idea isever***used, these are the sort of people who leave the mess anyway. You don't get nice little middle class families or hard working families messing these things up for everyone. They are responsible. We need to start fighting back against the 'lossers' of this country, and don't tell me about their human rights, I'm going for a lay down now, nurse!

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  • happyinthebay  |  January 23 2013, 9:13AM

    Why does it matter if 'Blue Flag'? Loads of places (most of Cornwall beaches) are amazing but aren't Blue Flag?

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  • iseveryidused  |  January 23 2013, 12:11AM

    Cleaning beaches would be an ideal menial task for people to carry out whilst doing their "Community Service". Nice steady supply of free labour, whilst giving something back to the community. How radical and revolutionary.

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  • geofftq  |  January 21 2013, 9:53PM

    Gosh thats nearly as much as they paid that old bird that took voluntary redundancy! Why not get business involved.. sponsor a bit of beach and fly a advertising flag. Life guards could also wear logos on their vest, shirts a bit like that football team Torquay nill or whatever they are called. Better still employ someone competent at the council, that can think out of the box. Simples X

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  • geofftq  |  January 21 2013, 9:52PM

    Gosh thats nearly as much as they paid that old bird that took voluntary redundancy! Why not get business involved.. sponsor a bit of beach and fly a advertising flag. Life guards could also wear logos on their vest, shirts a bit like that football team Torquay nill or whatever they are called. Better still employ someone competent at the council, that can think out of the box. Simples X

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  • jennyhomes  |  January 21 2013, 10:29AM

    Pingu007 stupidly said "The problem here is that the EU is changing the rules" It has nothing to do with EU. It is more to do with Torbay is a sh*t hole and there is a reason tourists do not want to come back. Why do they want to holiday were the hotels are run down, full of dossers, drug addicts and dog poop.

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  • Pingu007  |  January 19 2013, 8:49AM

    The problem here is that the EU is changing the rules of how blue flags can be awarded. Our water will not meet the EU's new cleanliness standards, which is not the fault of the council, but is wholly the fault of South West Water. So please remember that when you next have to pay the highest watrer bills in the UK. If our tourists numbers fall because of this, then we have only South West Water to blame.

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  • SidneyNuff  |  January 18 2013, 10:42PM

    I don't know what makes me more mad. The gold plated toilet or the ivory shower. What kind of bathrooms do these people have.

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  • crackingview  |  January 18 2013, 9:31PM

    wow , what a story i dont know who is the most gulable , the journalist or the council who on earth would cut the very thing that people would appreciate ,then report on it for maximum impact , its like spending £30,000 on a wedding and £10 on the dress, just when we thought they where making improvements to the area, they come up with this tacky idea, are you telling me that with all the people we have voted in, thats the best they could do ? im sure the council are trying to ruin this area while having a gold plated toilet fitted to thier ivory tower can you imagine the secret talks before the meeting to set the budgets a/ before we go in, how are we going to save money? b/ dont know , how about shaving off a layer of mangagement, pa's and assistants a/ what !, are you mad - i have a better idea - we will hit the front line services where it hurts b/ but the public will go nuts a/ i know , but all we need to do is back hand the journalist to favour our slyness and to plant the seed of our evil plan b/ thats genius , and when the very people who pay our wages complain , we will just say " well its goverment cuts etc" but what happens if they get their own way and we cant cut front line services a/ well we will just stick the council tax up again win-win b/ genius , no one will ever know , lets go on another fact finding mission to stare at palm trees some where warm while this all blows over you cant make it up !

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  • paigntondi  |  January 18 2013, 8:02PM

    Most summer visitors are concerned only that Torbay has sand and sea with the hope of sunshine. I doubt if many of them are bothered about whether the resort has none or lots of Blue flags. They just want a good break for themselves and their children.

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