Thanet beaches top Blue Flag awards list
Thanet in Kent has more Blue Flag beaches than any other area in England, according to the Keep Britain Tidy campaign.
The charity has given the council nine Blue Flags, beating Torbay district in Devon, which has five.
The awards recognise high water quality and facilities.
Beaches chosen in Thanet include Botany Bay and Margate Main Sands. Canterbury City Council in Kent was awarded two Blue Flags for Herne Bay and Tankerton.
Last year, six Thanet beaches lost their Blue Flags - Margate Main Sands, Minnis Bay, Ramsgate Main Sands, St Mildred's Bay in Westgate, Stone Bay in Broadstairs and West Bay in Westgate.
However, all six beaches were awarded Quality Coast Awards, which show they have achieved the highest standards of beach management.'Enviable beaches'
Councillor Iris Johnston, cabinet member for tourism at Thanet District Council, described the awards for this year as "fabulous news".
"Achieving so many awards on our beaches confirms that we have the most enviable beaches in the whole of the UK.
"We work very hard to ensure that our beaches live up to the high expectations of residents and visitors and are thrilled that today's announcement puts us well and truly on the map," she said.
Ms Johnston added that the announcement coincided with the launch of the new lifeguard service for Thanet, provided by the RNLI.
A weekend and bank holiday service will begin from 2 June, with a full service starting on 14 July.
The lifeguards will offer safety advice and assistance to visitors at 10 beaches.'Quality dips'
Councillor Neil Baker, who is in charge of the beaches at Herne Bay and Tankerton, said they had not received the award for a few years.
"The reason we lost the Blue Flag previously was because all it takes is a couple of days of heavy rainfall - surface water ends up in the sea, and the water quality dips," he said.
"It's completely outside of our control. We can control the cleanliness... but when it comes to what's ended up in the sea we're open to the elements."
Mr Baker added that the council was in regular contact with Southern Water to ensure the water quality was as high as possible.
In addition to the Blue Flag awards, five beaches in Kent received Keep Britain Tidy's Quality Coast Awards - they are Reculver, Dymchurch, Beach Street in Sheerness, Leysdown and Viking Bay.