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From today, six beaches across the North East will be able to fly a Blue Flag – an international award that tells the public it’s one of the best beaches in the world. Awarded beaches include Tynemouth Longsands, King Edwards Bay, Sandhaven Beach and Whitley Bay, so those visiting them can be sure of a clean, safe beach with great facilities and water quality.

What’s more, eight beaches in the region have also received the Seaside Award – Keep Britain Tidy’s own award for the beaches that meet the very highest standards for cleanliness and facilities.

The news comes as research* from Keep Britain Tidy reveals that over a quarter (27%) of children have never been swimming in the sea in this country. Surprisingly, one third (33%) have never been on holiday to the coast and nearly one in five (18%) have never even set foot on a British beach.

Four in five (82%) parents admit that they have decided against taking their children to the British coast. Other than the typical British weather, the cleanliness of the beach is the number one cause for concern – with 40% worrying about unclean water, 38% put off by litter and two in five (42%) saying they’re put off by dog mess.

As a result, nearly half (47%) would leave immediately if they saw litter and dog mess on a beach, while 40% wouldn’t let their children play there. More than a quarter (29%) would even warn others not to visit.

However, two thirds of parents say that knowing a beach has been awarded Blue Flag or Seaside Award status gives them confidence that a beach is a clean, safe place for their children to play, with 15% saying they will only go to an award-winning beach

The international Blue Flag and the UK Seaside Awards are the quality marks for our beaches and mean those visiting them can be sure that they are clean, safe and meet the highest environmental standards, as well as the tough international bathing water quality standards.

Alongside this, Blue Flag beaches have to run a minimum of five educational activities for the local community and visitors to make people aware of the importance of looking after the natural environment.

The awards, following hot on the heels of the charity’s Great British Spring Clean and Great Plastic Pick Up campaigns, are part of Keep Britain Tidy’s commitment to support and celebrate the country’s best beaches for everyone for enjoy.

Keep Britain Tidy’s Chief Executive Allison Ogden-Newton said: “Blue Flag leads the fightback for the Blue Planet. Our research shows that nearly two thirds (65%) of parents would prefer to visit beaches with Blue Flag or Seaside Award status, so growing the number of beaches with an award is vital to encourage more families to visit our beautiful coastline.

“Blue Flag and Seaside Awards set the standard for our beaches, including the war against the litter and plastic that does so much damage to our marine environment.

“Keep Britain Tidy leads the fight to create clean, plastic-free beaches. We are committed to creating a great environment on our doorstep for everyone to enjoy and offering a quality mark that shows everyone just how fantastic our beaches can be.

“It’s brilliant to see so many beaches in the North East and the rest of the country winning Blue Flag and Seaside Award status this year, thanks to dedication and hard work of beach staff and volunteers who work tireless to maintain the high standards. Hopefully next year we’ll see an even greater number joining us as we drive up standards across the board.”

This year’s winners will be presented with their flags at a ceremony today on Cromer Pier, hosted by North Norfolk District Council.

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