Beaches in Thanet and Cornwall top Blue Flag cleanliness standards

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image captionPorthminster beach at St Ives is one of seven in Cornwall awarded the prestigious Blue Flag

Beaches in Thanet in Kent and Cornwall have been hailed as among the best in England after achieving the most Blue Flag awards, with seven each.

They are among 61 beaches, four more than last year, able to fly the flag having reached the international standard for cleanliness.

Cleethorpes North Promenade beach in Lincolnshire lost its Blue Flag status.

North East Lincolnshire Council blamed heavy rainfall for washing sediment into bathing water.

In addition, a total of 111 beaches received the Seaside Award, environmental group Keep Britain Tidy's own seal of approval for beaches.

Coastal award manager Paul Todd said all the winners had "proved their commitment to providing the best possible beaches for locals and visitors alike".

Thanet beaches flying the Blue Flag include Westgate's West Bay and St Mildred's Bay, and new recipient, Ramsgate Main Sands.

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image captionSeven beaches in Thanet, including Joss Bay, achieved the international Blue Flag cleanliness standard

Larissa Reed, director of community services at Thanet District Council, said tourism was worth £286m annually to the local economy, so "achieving the highest accolade is fantastic".

Across the South West, a total of 26 beaches will be flying the Blue Flag with those in Cornwall including Polzeath, Widemouth Bay, and Porthminster.

Torbay in Devon, which includes Meadfoot Beach in Torquay and Paignton Beach, got the most Seaside Awards, with 10.

Cornwall followed with nine awards.

South West marketing manager Matt Fletcher said the awards would persuade more holidaymakers to visit, including those from overseas.

"It is important that businesses across the industry use this news to their advantage to continue to promote the region as a top holiday destination," he said.

Other new recipients of the Blue Flag award in England this year include Hunstanton Main, in Norfolk, and Bridlington's North Beach, in East Yorkshire.

A Department for Environment spokeswoman said: "Water quality is better than it has ever been and we are working hard to make sure we meet tougher EU standards."

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