THE owner of a chain of surf shops has pledged to cover the inspection fee for Cornwall’s three former Blue Flag-rated beaches – to the tune of more than £2,500.
Gyllyngvase beach in Falmouth, Porthtowan near Redruth and Polzeath, near Wadebridge, used to be the county’s only three beaches to meet the internationally-recognised quality standard.
But Cornwall Council did not make the application this year, blaming the oversight on staff cutbacks.
Now, after 35 years at the helm of Ann’s Cottage, the retailer’s managing director Rob Harris has offered to step in and cover the £838 cost for all three beaches.
“It’s frustrating to see an opportunity to really bring the economic value and long-term benefit to the County missed, simply on the grounds of an inspection charge,” said Mr Harris.
“It’s because of this that I have decided to offer to pay for the inspection of Polzeath, Gyllyngvase and Porthtowan, which are all suffering as a consequence.
“I want to work with the Council and the Cornish to ensure an inspection fee doesn’t stand in the way of either tourists or business.”
Cornwall's tourism boss apologised to businesses in May after he admitted a “cock-up” was behind the absence of Blue Flags in the county this year.
Malcolm Bell, head of Visit Cornwall, said no applications were made for the Blue Flag status because of staff cutbacks.
The admission by Mr Bell was at odds with a previous statement from Cornwall Council which claimed it had been too expensive to apply for Blue Flags.
The removal of the Blue Flag status for Gyllyngvase Beach without consulting local tourism businesses was “shameful,” according to Falmouth hoteliers.
Falmouth Town Council said it was also “disappointing” that it was not consulted by the unitary authority.
Cornwall Council’s decision not to apply for the internationally-recognised quality standard – which only costs £838 – shows a “total lack of understanding” of the town’s tourism industry, said the Falmouth & District Hotels Association.
The council instead opted for the Seaside Award, which costs £609 and is considered as a “stepping stone” towards attaining the Blue Flag award.