THE south west boasts the most award-winning beaches in the country and Poole and Bournemouth rate second highest of all seaside resorts with four each.

Nineteen beaches in the region have gained the coveted Blue Flag and 30 have picked up Seaside Awards, Keep Britain Tidy has announced.

The flags will again be flying at Canford Cliffs, Shore Road, Branksome Chine and Sandbanks at Poole; Alum Chine, Durley Chine, Fisherman’s Walk and Southbourne at Bournemouth and Swanage Central.

All these beaches have been rewarded for their facilities, cleanliness and for meeting the highest international standards of water quality.

Across the country there are 168 award-winning beaches this year.

Sandbanks is celebrating its 27th year as a Blue Flag beach, having received the award since 1987.

Cllr Xena Dion, cabinet portfolio holder for leisure and culture, Borough of Poole, said: “Poole’s beaches really are a fantastic place for both residents and visitors to enjoy and everyone is tremendously proud that they have once again achieved Blue Flag status.

“We are very fortunate to have three and a half miles of beautiful beaches on our doorstep and the council’s staff work really hard to maintain and manage the beaches to attain award-winning standard, which ensure the Blue Flags keep flying.

“These awards continue to put Poole on the map as a quality visitor destination and I would like to thank all of our staff and partners for their hard work and dedication to ensure that our outstanding beaches remain world class.”

Cllr Lawrence Williams, Bournemouth council’s cabinet portfolio holder for tourism, leisure and culture, added: “I am very proud. It is a great honour for the town and I would like to pay tribute to all the staff involved who put so much work into the beaches and have made this possible.”

Thanet in Kent claimed the title for the most Blue Flag beaches, with seven.

Richard McIlwain, programmes director for Keep Britain Tidy said: “The sight of the Blue Flag or Seaside Award flying gives visitors the reassurance that they’ll have a really great time.”