We're flying flag; Five of our stunning beaches gain top quality accolade.
Five beaches along the North East coast have been awarded Blue Flags for their clean sands.
Beaches at Whitley Bay, Tynemouth Longsands South, and Tynemouth King Edward's Bay, all in North Tyneside, were awarded Blue Flags, with all three as well as Cullercoats Bay also winning Quality Coast Awards (QCAs).
Coun Bruce Pickard, cabinet member with responsibility for cleaner neighbourhoods, said: "This is fantastic news for the thousands who enjoy our beaches every year.
"That's because these awards are their guarantee that they're visiting beaches, which are clean and attractive places to relax or have fun.
"I would like to thank all those who took part in recent community clean-ups of our beaches as part of our Big Spring Clean environment campaign.
"People can continue to help our team right throughout the summer by leaving the beaches in the same condition they find them. This means taking litter home, recycling it or putting it in the bins provided." To win a Blue Flag, water quality at a beach has to reach the top guideline level and beaches must also satisfy 28 other criteria covering aspects such as safety, cleanliness, provision of information and environmental issues.
Roker beach in Sunderland regained its Blue Flag award after failing to win last year..
Seaton Carew foreshore, near Hartlepool, failed to maintain its Blue Flag status but did win a Quality Coast Award.
In total there were nine Quality Coast Awards given to beaches along our shores which are well-managed and pleasant for visitors, but where the water quality does not meet Blue Flag standards. This total was one more than last year.
Nationally it is one of the best years on record for the quality of beaches and their facilities.
Keep Britain Tidy, the charity which runs Blue Flag in England, is urging holidaymakers to make the most of our tip-top coastline to beat the credit crunch this summer.
Phil Barton, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, said: "With all the doom and gloom around holidaying in England is the perfect way of saving money and having a great time.
"Whether it's a question of variety, accessibility or value for money, enjoying wonderful beaches like those in the North East is the ideal way to recharge your batteries.
"So instead of worrying about exchange rates, baggage handlers or forgetting passports, we're urging people to make the most of their own magnificent coastline." In England a record 184 Blue Flags and Quality Coast Awards have been given to beaches in recognition of their high quality environments and facilities.
The number of Blue Flags awarded in England this year, 71, fell by 11 from 2008.
Keep Britain tidy said this was due to flooding over the past couple of years.
The number of QCAs rose by almost 40% to 113 compared to last year.
For a full list of Blue Flags and Quality Coast Awards visit www.encams.org