SOUTHEND’S beaches have received a huge boost after being named as some of the best in the country, picking up top awards ahead of the summer season.

Eight of the city’s beaches have been handed coveted Seaside Awards, while four were awarded the prestigious Blue Flag - recognising excellent water quality and cleanliness.

Environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy has today announced the winners of the prestigious Blue Flag and Seaside Awards for summer 2024 with Southend’s beaches once again featuring heavily.

Southend has retained four Blue Flag Awards at East Beach, Shoebury Common, Three Shells and Westcliff Bay – the most awarded in the East of England.

Seaside Awards, presented to the best beaches and celebrating the quality of the coastline, have been awarded to Chalkwell, Jubilee, Thorpe Bay, Three Shells, Shoebury Common, East Beach, Bell Wharf and Westcliff.

It comes after controversy surrounding water quality with campaign group Southend Against Sewage set to host a march on Saturday in Southend High Street over “disgusting sewage spills” in bathing water.

Data from the Environment Agency revealed 400 sewage spills were reported in Southend in 2023, up from 120 spills in 2022.

Thorpe Bay was previously awarded a Blue Flag in 2023 but the water quality is now graded as good rather than excellent following a testing sample showed higher bacteria levels.

Meg Davidson, Southend councillor responsible for environment, said: “I am pleased that our beaches have won these prestigious awards because it means residents and visitors to a beach flying a Blue Flag or Seaside Award can be assured the beach will be clean, safe and meet strict environmental standards.

“This announcement also confirms that all eight of our beaches have excellent or good levels of bathing water quality according to the strict international standards set.

“Despite these awards, we remain vigilant and continue to work with, and support the work that Anglian Water are doing on their bathing water quality investigations.”

To qualify for a Blue Flag, applicants must meet and maintain a series of stringent environmental, educational, and safety criteria.