Reopened beach celebrates award

IT may well be one of the smallest Blue Flag beaches in Europe, but it could also qualify as the most in-demand with its closure prompting crisis meetings and even calls to the police.

IT may well be one of the smallest Blue Flag beaches in Europe, but it could also qualify as the most in-demand with its closure prompting crisis meetings and even calls to the police.

For seven months Southwold beach has been closed to the public while a major £6.5m coastal protection scheme, including building 16 new groynes and importing 70,000 tonnes of sand, was carried out.

In June, as soaring temperatures saw tourists flocking to seaside resorts up and down the country, locals and visitors in the town were fuming that their beach remained a no-go zone for safety reasons as pieces of sharp metal, from the old groynes, remained in the water.

Daytrippers even climbed barriers and tried to avoid the police just to enjoy its golden sand while tourism bosses and businesspeople held crisis talks with the project managers and Waveney District Council, shouting that Southwold needed to be open for business.


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But yesterday after a fraught couple of months, the saga was almost at an end as the council officially unveiled the eagerly awaited Blue Flag, signalling at least part of the resort was back in business.

Currently the beach is only 150m long, but new sections are being opened every week, with it due to be fully reopened by the middle of the month.

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Wendy Mawer, the council's portfolio holder for economic regeneration, said: “Southwold beach has always been the jewel in the crown of Waveney, and it is part of our responsibility to look after that jewel.

“Southwold must now be the smallest Blue Flag beach in Europe, but week by week it will grow as we open it, which none of the others will.”

She added: “It has been paramount that the safety of our visitors came first, which is why we have had to close the beach. It has been difficult for traders and I thank them for their patience, I understand how difficult it has been, but now it is safe the beach is open.”

The Blue Flag awards are given to the cleanest beaches in the world following stringent tests for water quality and safety. Only resorts that are cleaned to EU standards daily have lifeguards and top water quality need apply, and only 3,100 beaches worldwide hold a flag.

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