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Wednesday, 2 October, 2002, 13:14 GMT 14:14 UK
Minister tests the cold water
Environment minister Michael Meacher on Blackppol beach
Mr Meacher is welcomed back after his swim
Environment Minister Michael Meacher has cast aside his clothes in front of the cameras to give his seal of approval for Blackpool beach.

Mr Meacher last month avoided being left out in the cold at the Johannesburg Summit but there was no escape from an October plunge in the Irish Sea.
Michael Meacher
Emerging from the clear blue Blackpool water

The Oldham MP took the swim to make good his promise to test the waters if Blackpool met European beach waters standards.

As well as the waiting cameras, Mr Meacher got the attention of two bikini-clad models sent to accompany him by a mischievous national newspaper.

Blackpool has been fairly mild this week and the sun was shining was Mr Meacher donned his bathing trunks.

Cold shock

That did not prevent him gasping: "God, it's cold," as he stripped off.

The minister took a 15-minute swim, finding the models and an environmental protestor dressed as a shark awaiting him as he returned to dry land.

Michael Meacher lying in the water
"It's lovely in here"
Mr Meacher stressed: "This is a bit of fun and games but it is for a purpose and the purpose is to make clear the seas are now clean and healthy and people can swim in them without becoming ill.

"I made a promise back when Blackpool beach was polluted.

"I am proud to do this today because these beaches are now clean."

UK beaches were now the cleanest they had been since the start of the industrial revolution, added Mr Meacher.


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07 Nov 01 | England
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