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Advice to stay out of the water at Thanet's beaches set to be lifted ahead of the weekend


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Council chiefs say they plan to scrap the no-swim advice at 14 beaches in Kent ahead of the weekend.

Swimmers have been advised against bathing along Thanet's coastline for the past nine days after an "unscreened wastewater release" at Southern Water's pumping station in Broadstairs on October 5.

Advice against swimming is still in place - nine days after the spill by Southern Water
Advice against swimming is still in place - nine days after the spill by Southern Water

Contractors from the water firm have carried out beach inspections every day to assess the impact of the spill and Thanet District Council officers have been conducting visual inspections.

While advice against bathing remains, the local authority says due to the improving picture, it hopes to remove the advisory notices before the weekend.

On Saturday, Viking Bay is set to play host to the final 'tech race' of the Great Britain Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP) National Series and there were fears it may not go ahead.

But Andy Webb, who runs Kent Surf School in Broadstairs, which is a partner in the event, says he's been told the council "is confident" it will happen.

"As of today we've been assured that the event will be happening," he said.

Andy Webb runs Kent Surf School

"We can crack on now and get this national race done which is something really new to this area. This is what we're trying to do; not end the season with a negative but end it with a positive.

"This is a really big thing for Kent and boosting tourism and showcasing the stand-up paddleboarding world as well as our beaches and coastline which are utterly beautiful.

"We don't want to be ending with Southern Water ruining it.

"And let me say Southern Water has ruined it, it's their responsibility here. They are to blame and we're trying to pick up the pieces. So let's make this a positive thing for the end of the season."

Foreness Point pumping station. Picture: Matt Bristow
Foreness Point pumping station. Picture: Matt Bristow

Mr Webb, who has had to cancel SUP lessons due to the spill, says it is catastrophic for the area and businesses when it happens.

The latest spillage comes after Southern Water was slapped with a record £90 million fine in July after dumping up to 21 billion litres of sewage into protected water between 2010 and 2015.

And last month it was reported the firm would pay £100,000 in compensation to Thanet council, after raw sewage leaked into the sea following a lightning strike on a pumping station.

People were warned to stay out of the water after the incident in June, when the water company's building at Foreness Point was hit in a storm.

It caused wastewater to pump into the sea between Margate main sands and Joss Bay in Broadstairs.

TDC leader Cllr Ash Ashbee
TDC leader Cllr Ash Ashbee

The leaks sparked anger, prompting protesters to march to the pumping station, while council bosses slammed the situation as an "environmental and financial disaster".

Cllr Ash Ashbee, leader of the council, called the situation unacceptable.

"Every day we continue to advise people against swimming in our waters is quite frankly a day too long," she said.

"Being forced into a position where we have to ask bathers, water sports enthusiasts and even businesses not to go about their normal activities on the grounds of safety, is simply unacceptable.

"I have again called for a meeting with Southern Water executives to express my strongest dissatisfaction and to understand exactly when things are going to improve.

"It’s encouraging to know that discussions are underway at a national level on these issues, but my priority is to the residents and businesses in Thanet, and I say enough is enough.

"I will ensure that our voices are heard once again and will be expecting the strongest and quickest action to resolve these ongoing wastewater issues."

Read more: All the latest news from Thanet

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