DITCHING an application for the Blue Flag award would save BCP council just over £11,000 a year, it can be revealed. 

This year, the authority spent £11,714 to apply for the accolade, which highlights the “excellent” water quality along the seafront, according to an FOI. 

For 2022’s award, it cost £9,916 to apply, the year before was £9,841, 2020 cost £9,841 and 2019 was £9,755. 

This means BCP Council has so far spent £51,067 on the award since its formation in April 2019. 

Despite this relatively small sum compared with the approximate £750 million spent annually, the council insists every penny counts when it comes to filling in the £44 million gap.

Bournemouth Echo: Beach at SandbanksBeach at Sandbanks

Cllr Mille Earl, deputy leader of BCP Council, said: “We’ve been talking to residents for some time about the challenging financial situation facing BCP Council, and about how we are under the same pressures as other local authorities, some of whom have also looked closely at their Blue Flag applications.    

“We have a £44m gap in our finances next year, which means we must ask questions of every single line in our budget and ensure we can continue to deliver services that best meet the needs of our residents and enable us to financially live within our means.” 

She added that money saved in one area will “directly contribute to the protection of a key service in another”.

Read more: Tobias Ellwood criticises BCP Council for Blue Flag 'cut'

Read more: Bournemouth beaches scoop handful of Blue Flags award

2023’s application was £1,798 more expensive than the previous year because Keep Britain Tidy, which hands out the awards, raised the application price. 

Talks have been ongoing with council “partners”, including tourism sector partners, businesses and commercial organisations, to look at other ways to fund the award. 

Cllr Earl added: “Our conversations with external organisations keen to support BCP’s Blue Flag status are continuing, and there is still six months to go until any flags are awarded for 2024.    

“BCP’s seafront remains one of the best in the world, with fantastic water quality, miles of beautiful sand and an offering that continues to attract millions of visitors every year.” 

The decision to scrap funding for the Blue Flag award was heavily criticised by Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood, who accused the council of being “short-sighted”.