There will be no Blue Flag flying over Gyllyngvase beach this summer, after Cornwall Council refused to apply for accreditation for the sake of £820, however the town council may now step in.
In a decision which has disappointed Falmouth councillors and businesses alike, the council said it would not be applying for the internationally recognised award, which guarantees cleanliness, water quality, and beach facilities, due to the cost.
Instead of paying the around £820 for a Blue Flag inspection, which is recognised in 48 countries across Europe, Africa and the Caribbean, it will instead be applying for a 'Seaside Award', from Keep Britain Tidy.
A council spokesperson said: “Cornwall Council, like other beach owners, has to pay to apply for Blue Flag status; consequently, we will not be applying for the Blue Flag this season on any of the sites that formerly used to have the award - Gyllyngvase, Porthtowan and Polzeath.
“We will be replacing the Blue Flag with a Seaside Award on these sites for the forthcoming season. It is however important to reassure beach users that we will not be reducing standards of service on any of our beaches and will strive, as always, to keep them clean, safe and healthy.”
Falmouth Town Council has expressed disappointment with Cornwall Council’s decision, and is to look into the possibility of applying for the accreditation itself.
Town clerk Mark Williams said: “I have asked for a meeting with them [Cornwall Council] and on May 7 we will get together to specifically talk about Gyllyngvase Beach and see if it’s something the town council can take on. There may be something we can do, if it’s not too late.”
Town manager Richard Gates added: “Gyllyngvase Beach not identified as a Blue Flag beach would be a disaster. It is so important to tourism.”
However, Paul Todd, flag development manager at Keep Britain Tidy, which administers the UK accreditation of the Blue Flag awarding body FEE, said it would be too late to make an application for the beach this year.
He said: “In a sense there are two deadlines, one for all applications to be handed in to us to be passed on to FEE, and that was February 18. The second is the jury decision, which is made by FEE on April 9.”
Shaun Davie, associate chairman of The Falmouth District Hoteliers Association, said: “It’s a very negative attitude and a great shame, another nail in the head for tourism for Falmouth.
“They don’t seem to support tourism at all and it’s one of the main bread winners for Cornwall, let alone Falmouth.
“I am extremely concerned and disappointed at this negative approach to what is our tourism shop window. We advertise having blue flag beaches on our doorstep and that is not the case now.
“We will have to change our advertising. It would have been nice to have been consulted about it in the first place.”
Mark Agnew, manager of the Gylly Beach Cafe, said: “To say that I’m extremely surprised is an understatement.
“It’s unbelievable, using finance as a reason why we wouldn’t want to apply for blue flag status on Falmouth’s prime beach, when the town relies heavily on tourism throughout the year and the blue flag status is so important.
“For Cornwall Council to not notify people in due time about their intention of not reapplying is amazingly poor, not just for residents and businesses but also for thousands of tourists that look for such certifications and awards on beaches that they choose.”