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Thursday, 21 May, 1998, 08:01 GMT 09:01 UK
Beaches 'unfit for swimming'
Tourism chiefs say swimming is not Blackpool's main attraction
Some of Britain's most popular resorts, including Blackpool's Golden Mile, Bognor Regis, Bridlington and Hastings, have been attacked as unfit for swimming.

Other popular seaside towns with "water of insufficient quality" in the European Commission tests include Southsea, Folkestone, Pevensey Bay, Lynmouth and Southport.

Some 57 beaches out of 486 failed the European Bathing Water directive standards - slightly up on last year.

Holidaymakers seeking the cleanest beaches in Europe should head for Greece and Italy. On the Greek coast 19 sites out of 20 were classed as having excellent quality bathing waters while 18 out of 20 Italian sites achieved the same level.

'Insufficient quality'

Chillier but nearly as clean as Greece and Italy were the Danish beaches, followed by the Dutch, Spanish and Irish coasts.

Belgium came bottom of the list, with only 20.5% of its beaches making the high quality grade.

A European Commission spokesman said: "The beaches which have bathing water of insufficient quality are obviously areas where parents would hesitate to take their children.

"We are not going to tell people they cannot swim in these places. This report is simply warning them of those areas which are good and those which are not so good.

"We are saying that if you swim in water of insufficient quality the risk is your own."

The North West Tourist Board said earlier this year that criticisms of Blackpool beaches in another report by the Marine Conservation Society were wrong, unfair and unreasonable, and that most people went to the resort for its range of attractions and not to swim in the sea.

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