AWARD-WINNING beaches in south Essex have been named among the best in the country.

Southend won ten awards, with four beaches gaining blue flag status and six winning a seaside award from Keep Britain Tidy.

Scott Dolling, director for culture, tourism and property at Southend Council, said: “Both awards are quality marks for our beaches and mean those visiting them can be sure that they are clean and safe and meet the highest environmental standards.

“Southend welcomes more than seven million visitors per year.

“With blue flag and seaside awards flying above our beaches, residents and visitors alike will know that they are among the best in the country.

“We want everyone to enjoy our beaches and help keep them award winning. We are all aware of the potential damage our waste causes to marine life and so we can all personally make a difference by disposing of rubbish responsibly when visiting the seaside.”

Beaches awarded a blue flag include East Beach, Shoebury Common, Thorpe Bay and Three Shells Beach in Southend.

Beaches given a seaside award include Chalkwell, Jubilee, Thorpe Bay, Three Shells, Shoebury Common and East Beach.

To be awarded a blue flag, beaches must comply with a number of criteria covering environmental education and information, water quality, environmental management, safety and services.

The Seaside Award is run by Keep Britain Tidy and recognises and rewards beaches in England that achieve the highest standards of beach management and, in the case of bathing beaches, meet the required standards for water quality.

Jacqui Dallimore, chairman of Southend Tourism Partnership, said: “Southend’s popularity relies upon clean and well-managed beaches to keep visitors wanting to come back time and again.

“Southend can now proudly boast four of the best beaches in the country, which is a testament to the huge combined effort by local businesses, the council and the many volunteers who give up their free time to keep our beaches in tip-top condition.”

Allison Ogden-Newton, Keep Britain Tidy’s chief executive, added: “Visiting beaches with the Blue Flag or Seaside Award status means beach-goers can feel more relaxed in a setting that is environmentally considerate.”

The results come at at time of increased “eco-anxiety” and concerns about plastic litter.

Research by Keep Britain Tidy found these were significant areas of concern particularly among the younger generations.