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Wednesday, February 3, 1999 Published at 06:43 GMT


Great British seaside shamed

Britain's beaches: Mixed report

The UK's beaches and coastal resorts are getting dirtier and the facilities are even worse, according to a damning new report.

The BBC's Richard Wilson: The worst beaches are health hazards
Further compounding the UK's seaside image as the dirty man of Europe, campaigners attacked the state of toilets as one of the key factors in the latest drop in quality.

The survey commissioned by the Tidy Britain Group covered 153 beaches in England, Scotland and Wales in August 1998.

It found that the average score for facilities has dropped by 8% since 1996.

The report's author Trevor Dickson explains what he found
The most significant finding was that 22% of toilets were found to be very dirty and a quarter are badly maintained.

Beaches in the north-east of England, one of the country's most popular destinations for the traditional seaside break, were singled out for special criticism, along with some in Wales and the midlands' east coast.

Resorts in the south and south-west came out on top.

More litter

The survey found that beach cleanliness had dropped by 3% since 1996 because of an increase in general litter and sewage-related debris.

Other black spots were found in Scotland and the north-west - compared with East Anglia, which scored highest in this category.

[ image: Litter is rated a major problem]
Litter is rated a major problem
Assessors worked through 68 specific criteria including cleanliness, facilities, water safety, dog control, availability of information and access.

East Midlands resorts were found to have the best dog control policies.

And visitors worried about safety should head to beaches in the north-east of England, which ranked highest in the safety category.

Good management

One positive finding was the vast improvement in provision of toilets for disabled people, which rose to 93% - the largest percentage ever recorded.

Beach access, information provision and water safety have also improved.

Director General of the Tidy Britain Group Professor Graham Ashworth said he had very mixed feelings about the results.

"It is a great shame that the UK's resorts are being let down by the poor state of their toilets.

"It is also of great concern that litter is once more becoming an issue on our beaches."

But he added: "I am encouraged that beach managers have acted on advice we gave in 1996 to improve their signage and information provision.

"This gives me hope that resorts will take heed of this call to tackle their toilets and therefore make a day at the seaside more enjoyable for their visitors."

The good and the bad

Tidy Britain Group allocated grades from A-D to all the beach resorts in the survey.

Those at the top of the pile scored 80% or more and those at the bottom in the Grade D bracket achieved less than 41%.

Grade A beaches were listed as:

  • Barmouth
  • Blackpool Sands
  • Bournemouth (Durley Chine)
  • Bournemouth (Fisherman's Walk)
  • Cromer
  • Eastbourne
  • Herne Bay
  • Littlehampton
  • Poole (Sandbanks)
  • Shanklin
  • Sheerness (Beach Street)
  • West Wittering
  • Weymouth (Central)
  • Woolacombe

Grade D Beaches were listed as:

  • Aberdeen
  • Ardrossan (Saltcoats)
  • Benllech
  • Elie
  • Fraserburgh
  • Hemsby
  • Largs
  • Portobello
  • Prestwick

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