POOLE and Bournemouth beaches have made a big contribution to the south west’s boast to have the most award winning sandy bays in the country.

Four Poole beaches and four at Bournemouth are among 23 in the south west entitled to fly the prestigious Blue Flag in the Keep Britain Tidy 2013 awards.

Swanage beach, which won a Blue Flag award, also secured the new Seaside Award, which went to 27 beaches including two at Bournemouth and three at Christchurch. This rewards the highest standards of beach management and in the case of bathing beaches, meets guideline water quality, replacing the Quality Coast Award.

Both Poole and Bournemouth came second to Thanet in Kent which again claimed the title for the most Blue Flag beaches with eight. Across the country there are 147 award-winning beaches.

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Beaches at Canford Cliffs, Shore Road, Branksome Chine and Sandbanks can fly the flag, with the latter celebrating its 26th year of the award which for 2013 has a tougher water quality standard and marks good facilities, safety and cleanliness.

“Everyone in Poole is tremendously proud of our beaches, and we are thrilled they have once again achieved Blue Flag status,” said Cllr Judy Butt, Borough of Poole cabinet portfolio holder for public engagement and participation.

“We are very privileged to have three-and-a-half miles of beautiful beaches on our doorstep and the council continues to work hard in keeping them to award winning standards and making them special places to visit and enjoy,” she said.

Bournemouth’s Blue Flag beaches are Alum Chine, Durley Chine, Fisherman’s Walk and Southbourne while Boscombe Pier and Bournemouth Pier won Seaside Awards.

Mark Smith, director of tourism for Bournemouth Borough Council said: “Once again we are thrilled to have achieved Blue Flag status and two Quality Coast awards.

“We take great pride in our beaches and our seafront team work hard to ensure visitors have the best experience when visiting our beaches.”

Three Christchurch beaches also won Seaside Awards, Avon, Friars Cliff and Highcliffe.