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West Norfolk bathing water quality scrutinised during meeting

Concerns have been raised over the quality of bathing water at Heacham and Hunstanton.

Sampling of water takes place roughly 20 times a year according to the Environment Agency (EA) with one being conducted prior to May 15.

Senior environment officer John Daniels said Hunstanton Main slightly improved in 2019 but Old Hunstanton is getting worse according to samples analysed by the EA.

Hunstanton Beach is a popular destination during warm weather
Hunstanton Beach is a popular destination during warm weather

He said the latest overall classification for Heacham and Hunstanton Main was ‘sufficient’, while Old Hunstanton was ‘good’. Such results last for a period of four years.

But Mr Daniels said ‘sufficient’ was “underplaying” it and stated results should be better.

And Independent councillor Sandra Squire compared the ‘sufficient’ classification to Ofsted saying a school requires improvement.

She told representatives: “You are not really instilling confidence in me. I am a water user and have had eye infections in the past from using it.

“It seems like you are discounting the worst results. You do not test during the winter but I know people who do swim in the winter months.”

The meeting heard that warning notices can be issued to bathers by 10am, which applies for 24 hours.

There are likely to be 26 warnings per season at Heacham, 20 at Hunstanton Main and nine at Old Hunstanton, Mr Daniels said during a presentation.

Fouling by dogs and seagulls raises bacterial levels with a lack of dog bins on Heacham promenade being raised.

An email by Hunstanton councillor Paul Beal highlighted issues with traders depositing waste on to the beach.

In response, West Norfolk Council officer Martin Chisholm said: “We have no categoric evidence that traders are putting contaminated water on to the beach. We are aware of isolated incidents.”

Councillor Tom Ryves suggested traders should be encouraged to be self-policing.

He said: “In the worst situations, it could be devastating for the resort and would then affect livelihoods.”

Heacham councillor Terry Parish said: “If I dropped a piece of litter it would be a £60 fine so are you saying traders can drop litter down the seafront?”

Chairman Colin Sampson replied: “I do not think we can work on that basis. If someone is habitually doing it the wrong way, I am sure they will report it.”

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