We’re all for a system that enables people to see quite how clean our beaches are. And we think that it’s wise that it includes not only the quality of the seawater, but the cleanliness and attractiveness of the beach itself.
The long-established Blue Flag Awards have generally been a force for good in sharpening the minds of officials from the various organisations responsible for their upkeep and welfare.
Leave Mother Nature to look after our beaches in their original state and generally she’d do a reasonable job. But given that man-made challenges sometimes throw her off course, it’s right that the public should see quite how well – or otherwise – those we charge with keeping our beaches clean are doing in their task.
A rigorous regime undoubtedly helps with that, but there surely have to be exceptions when common sense takes over.
So, for all we support a determined drive to keep our beaches beautiful, we are concerned to learn that the owner of a dog that swallowed a fish hook at Hayling has been told that it is difficult to place more litter bins there as well as warning signs that there could be dangerous debris on the shore.
Dionne Wheeler was informed by Havant Borough Council that there are restrictions in place because it is a recognised beauty spot.
In this case, the council is following rules rather than making them.
So our concern is directed at those who draw up the Blue Flag criteria, and those for Sites of Scientific Interest.
Surely it shouldn’t be a question of restricting litter bins or signs warning of danger, but rather a requirement that these should be complementary to or sympathetic to the natural beauty of an area.
Of course, the best possible resolution of problems like this is that people don’t discard fish hooks on beaches in the first place (although of course, some might be lost and washed up).
But there will always be some who behave anti-socially, and it is important that we take steps to warn people of potential danger wherever it may lurk.