Southampton play Manchester United in Sunday's EFL Cup final - a chance to win a first major trophy in 41 years.
South Coast Beaches Get Blue Flags
The south coast's beaches are maintaining their cleanliness levels, it was revealed today.
A total of 70 English beaches have been awarded the Blue Flag this year, one less than in 2010, Keep Britain Tidy said.
In addition, 108 beaches have received Quality Coast Awards. In 2002, only 45 English beaches achieved Blue Flags.
With 32 beaches winning both Blue Flag and Quality Coast Awards, it means that England can boast 146 award-winning beaches compared with 150 in 2010.
For 2011, Dorset has eight Blue Flag beaches (Sandbanks Peninsular, Shire Road, Canford Cliffs Chine, Branksome Chine, Alum Chine, Durley Chine, Fisherman's Walk and Southbourne Beach) West Sussex has three (West Wittering, Littlehampton Coastguards and Bognor Regis), the Isle of Wight has three (Ventnor, Sandown and Shanklin) and Hampshire has one (Hayling Island Beachlands).
Fifteen beaches across the south coast also got Quality Coast Awards.
George Brown, IW Council Cabinet member responsible for tourism said:
"I welcome these results from Keep Britain Tidy.
"This confirms that the Isle of Wight is the number one resort in the south east for award winning beaches, with over four times as many winning beaches than areas like Brighton & Hove and Arun. This is very good news for the Island and I am sure potential visitors and holidaymakers will be very impressed by the sheer number of awards."
Isle of Wight Council Deputy Director for Economy, Tourism and Leisure John Metcalfe thinks the awards are a real community effort. He said:
"These are tough economic times with several areas of service being reviewed by the council, yet we have still achieved these prestigious awards which is a major boost for the Island.
"A lot of people have played their part in this success, because although the council carries out beach cleaning on a regular basis, there are a great many residents and local groups who take pride in their beaches and nearby areas and also do their bit in helping to maintain them. The whole Island can take great pride in this recognition of the high quality of the environment that we all enjoy so much."
Most English regions have done as well for Blue Flag beaches this year as last, although the number awarded in south-east England has fallen from 17 to 10.
Phil Barton, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, which is responsible for the Blue Flag scheme in England, said:
"Traditional beach holidays in this country were always centred on our seaside resorts and we urge holidaymakers to rekindle their passion for our wonderful coastline and quality resorts.
"The continuing high standards of our beaches are testament to the hard work carried out by beach managers throughout the year in order to provide clean and safe beaches for everyone to enjoy, whether you live on the coast or are a visitor.''
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