Torbay Blue Flags can fly when beaches manned
TORBAY can still boast Blue Flag beaches despite plans to reduce staff throughout the resort.
It was initially feared Torbay — which holds the highest number of Coastal and Blue Flag Award beaches for any resort in England — would lose its status in this year's £142,000 budget cut.
But it has now been told the flags can fly when the Blue Flag beaches are manned during July and August.
These are Oddicombe, Meadfoot in Torquay, Paignton and Broadsands and Breakwater in Brixham.
The news came at Torbay Council's full meeting to decide the budget.
Cllr Andrew Baldrey told the meeting he still objected to the budget cut.
He said: "The council is not offering as good a service in our beaches for the whole of the season and we are trying to extend the holiday season here."
ENCAMs, the awarding body of the Blue Flag and coastal awards, has agreed the beaches which qualify for Blue Flags and the remainder that meet the Quality Coast Award standard can still be submitted for consideration this year.
Cllr Jeanette Richards, member for tourism, said ENCAMs was aware the beaches would only have a full staff presence between July and September.
She said: "That is on the understanding that the flags are only physically flown when beach staff are present."
The beach savings is £142,000, of which £112,000 is reductions in agency staffing.
It means that between April and the end of September, three mobile teams will cover all nine managed beaches.
There will a permanent presence with a full on site service from July 1 until September 1.
Cleaning on the beaches and seaweed removal will still take place from Easter to the end of September as usual.
Cllr Steve Darling said it was not about being 'Blue Flag some of the time but about staff on beaches'.
Mayor Gordon Oliver said it would open up opportunities for beach concessions.
The authority is working with community groups and concession holders to provide additional services out of the main season.