SIX of Southend’s beaches have won the official seal of approval for their water quality.

The Marine Conservation Society’s Good Beach Guide for 2014 grades Shoebury East Beach, Shoebury Common Beach, Thorpe Bay Beach, Three Shells Beach, Westcliff Beach and Chalkwell Beach as “recommended”.

Jubilee Beach and Bell Wharf, Leigh, are given a lesser, but still satisfactory grading confirming they are up to “mandatory” standards.

The guide’s publication will come as a boost after none of the town’s beaches achieved Keep Britain Tidy Blue Flag status last May.

The Environment Agency had also warned Chalkwell and Bell Wharf could fall foul of strict new EU rules on water quality, due to come in next year.

Scott Dolling, Southend Council’s acting head of economy, regeneration and tourism, said: “I am very pleased all of our beaches have passed Marine Conservation Society scrutiny, with six being recommended as having excellent water quality.

“Our beaches are absolutely vital to our tourism and the local economy and I hope local people and visitors will vote with their feet this spring and summer and visit our wonderful beaches and coastline.”

A total of 538 out of 734 UK beaches tested last summer have “recommended” status in the latest guide – 135 more than the previous year.

There were also fewer failures, with just 14 beaches failing to reach minimum water quality standards.

Marine Conservation Society coastal pollution officer RachelWyatt hopes the latest figures will boost domestic tourism.

Beaches were badly affected by several wet summers, which led to reduced water quality, because pollution ran into the sea from urban areas and overloaded sewers.

She said: “It’s great news that we are able to recommend more beaches than ever for excellent water quality.

“It shows just how good British beaches can be.

“The main challenge now is maintaining these standards, whatever the weather.”

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