The results released by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) come after stricter EU legislation for bathing water quality were introduced in 2014
Four out of eight bathing waters are now ranked ‘Excellent’, which is a marked improvement from 2014 when only one was judged at that level. A further three are rated as ‘Good’.
In 2016, Jubilee Beach has improved from ‘Sufficient’ to ‘Good’, but Leigh Bell Wharf has moved from ‘Good’ to ‘Sufficient.’ Work is now underway to identify the reasons for this so that improvements can be made.
Southend Council has been working with Anglian Water, the Environment Agency and other local groups, as well as businesses and residents, for the past three years to improve the bathing waters and this work continues.
Cllr Ann Holland, Executive Cllr for Tourism, Culture and the Economy, said: “Tourism is worth £380m for Southend’s economy and our beaches and coastline are clearly a large draw to our six million annual visitors. The importance of clean bathing water therefore is vital to our offer as a seaside town. Just two years ago, only one of our bathing waters was rated ‘excellent’ and now we have four, which is a great achievement.
“To maintain our ratings this year is extremely encouraging and a testament to the effective joint working between the Council, Anglian Water and the Environment Agency to improve infrastructure and tackle pollution head-on.
“That said, we recognise that the result at Leigh Bell Wharf has gone down and although still sufficient, we want to raise that back to good. Therefore we will not rest on our laurels and will continue to work with our partners on projects to identify the issues and deal with them.”
Regan Harris from Anglian Water said: “We’re delighted to see many of the beaches and bathing waters around Southend are rated as ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’ in this year’s results.
“The improvement in Southend is marked and a testament to the hard work that has taken place by all partners – Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, the Environment Agency and ourselves. And with the £3million scheme we’ve already started, we hope we’ll get more bathing waters become ‘Excellent’ in the future.
“Caring for the coast is hugely important to us as a business, we want our customers and visitors to enjoy cleaner seas. We know the quality of our bathing waters and coastline underpins the important tourism economy in Southend and, that’s why we want all bathing waters to be excellent in our region.”