Warning as beaches get poor grades

Cyclists from across the Portsmouth area take part in the Glow cycling event in Southsea. 'Picture Ian Hargreaves  (171233-1)

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BATHERS could be warned not to swim in Portsmouth and Gosport beaches if their water quality does not improve.

Southsea and Stokes Bay beaches both received a ‘basic pass’ in the Good Beach Guide 2011 – the lowest grade apart from a fail.

The Marine Conservation Society, which compiles the guide, is warning that in 2015 new stricter European laws will make it harder for beaches to be classed as safe. Seafronts that don’t achieve the lowest safety standard face having signs put up to warn beachgoers that the water may contain high levels of bacteria and viruses.

David Evans, Portsmouth’s seafront manager, said water quality would improve by 2015 when the city’s sewage system is upgraded. Gosport Borough Council said Stokes Bay was tested every week and had passed the standard required every time.

A spokeswoman said: ‘If for any reason in the future it did fail any new standards, we would work with the Environment Agency in order to establish what measures we could put into place to improve water quality.’