Torbay Mayor Gordon Oliver wrong on Blue Flag claim

Image caption Surfers at Polzeath which is among six Blue Flag-designated beaches in Cornwall

Torbay's mayor wrongly claimed Cornwall had no Blue Flag beaches when he defended spending cuts.

Gordon Oliver was speaking about his proposals to cut £142,000 from the Devon borough's beach services.

Torbay currently has five Blue Flag beaches - demonstrating good water quality, safety and services.

He said Cornwall "hasn't had any Blue Flags for years" when there are six, Porthminster, Gyllyngvase, Porthtowan, Polzeath, Carbis Bay and Porthmeor.

'No effect'

Cuts to beach services are among £10m of cuts which Mr Oliver is proposing and which will be debated by Conservative-controlled Torbay Council on 13 February.

Conservative Mr Oliver said: "Cornwall hasn't had a Blue Flag in years and they have a huge number of visitors.

"We have had talks with them and said, 'What effect has it had on your beaches?' and they said 'No effect at all.'

"People know Torbay is a clean and nice place to come to.

"We will still maintain that record."

Cornwall Council said it was applying for three Blue Flags next year on beaches which it owns.

It was also working with others who lease beaches from the council to achieve Blue Flag status.

Fellow Conservative Torbay councillor Chris Lewis told the BBC's Sunday Politics show: "For two years we haven't had a Blue Flag in Torbay at Preston, one of the best beaches in Torbay.

"Have we seen the numbers go down? No we haven't.

"I don't think people go there because of a Blue Flag.

"Throughout the country there are lots of brilliant beaches that don't have Blue Flags."

Matthew Clarke of Paignton Business Improvement District said: "The problem is when you win an award which is the Blue Flag and then it's taken away, the publicity can damage the reputation of an area."

Mr Oliver was unavailable for further comment.

The debate on Torbay's spending cuts can be seen on the Sunday Politics Show in the South West on BBC One at 11:00 GMT.

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