Weather could put Bognor’s blue flag beach award at risk

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Stormy weather has left the prized Blue Flag on Bognor Regis eastern seafront at risk.

The unpredecented conditions back into last month have taken their toll on the town’s bathing water.

This means its status as one of the best beaches in the country could disappear if the coming weeks see more extreme rainfalls.

But a couple of months of the famous Bognor sunshine should enable the bathing water to pass the tests necessary for the town to hold on to the Blue Flag.

Deputy town mayor Cllr Paul Wells, who owns a town-centre shop, said: “It’s important for Bognor to have the Blue Flag.

“It’s known throughout the country as showing a resort has a clean and safe beach which people can enjoy.

“I am sure that, if Bognor was to lose its Blue Flag, the impact will be felt in the number of people visiting us.

“I hope the recent exceptional weather will be taken into account if it causes a problem when the final results for the flag are known.”

The Blue Flag is run by an international body and administered in this country by Keep Britain Tidy.

Its Blue Flag scheme manager, Richard McIlwain, said: “If Bognor has a couple of months of average or below-average rainfall, then it should be okay to keep the Blue Flag to fly next year.

“But the final outcome won’t be known until this autumn, until we get to the end of the 20-week sampling session.”

The situation about future Blue Flags was further complicated because the levels of bacteria permitted in the sea water were being lowered.

The method of calculating which resorts would receive the flag was also changing. Instead of one year’s samples, they would be based on the preceding four years.

A government prediction last year showed Bognor would be among the far fewer resorts which would still qualify for the flag.

“Bognor was classed as excellent in that prediction and that looks good for the future of the Blue Flag for the resort.

“Many of the resorts which currently have the flag will not be able to say that.

“But it just depends on the weather from now,” said Mr McIlwain.