A GROUP of businesses have got together and have agreed to fund the application process for the Blue Flag award. 

Businesses including the Destination Management Board, business improvement districts (BIDs) and independents, have agreed to save the award which praises the quality of seawater and the beaches. 

Last year, BCP Council said it would not be funding the award this year as it works to get its finances together. 

Last year's award praised the “excellent” water quality of beaches from Sandbanks to Highcliffe and BCP Council spent £11,714 to apply for the accolade. 

DMB chair Andy Lennox said: “Whilst we don't think funding should have been removed and it's disappointing to see council's position as we believe Blue Flags to be a community asset, we also don't think Blue Flag beaches should be lost. 

“Keeping them will ensure standards are upkept on what is our biggest natural asset and have the flags to prove it.  

He added: “The whole conurbation has united to ensure these flags stay. That's what we all should be doing: we must pull together now to get this destination back to where it should be and that starts here, by working together. Three towns, one destination.” 

Other businesses which are contributing include Coastal BID, Bournemouth Town Centre BID, Christchurch BID, Poole BID, Fired Up Collective, Nusara Thai, Rockwater, FJB Hotels, Noisy Lobster, Sobo Beach and The Beach House.

Rockwater chief executive Luke Davis said: “I was surprised to hear that the council withdrew funding for the Blue Flag award, it’s such a huge loss for the area.  

“The beachfront has had the iconic Blue Flag stamp of approval for years; it’s become integral to the area’s identity and of course is important for driving tourism too. 

“Poole’s beaches deserve to be internationally recognised and so we’ve committed to fund three Blue Flags between Branksome and Sandbanks.  

“It's only fair that Poole retains its rightful place amongst the most outstanding coastlines worldwide.” 

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”.

So far, the authority has spent £51,067 on the award since its formation in April 2019. 

Alum Chine, Durley Chine, Manor Steps, Fisherman’s Walk and Southbourne beaches also received the flags.