Scarborough Council has admitted that the bathing water pollution issues plaguing the town are unlikely to be solved “quickly”.
The admission was made by cabinet member Cllr Mike Cockerill at the recent Full Council meeting after being pressed by members for an update on the South Bay failing bathing water standards and the North Bay losing its Blue Flag.
Cllr Cockerill maintained that it was “gulls, humans and dogs” to blame for the problems in South Bay, and not the discharge from the McCain factory via the Wheatcroft outfall pipe.
He also took a swipe at the media on its reporting of the on-going issues in Scarborough’s tourist heartland.
Responding to a question from Labour Deputy Leader Cllr Tony Randerson on whether he would be writing to the Environment Agency to convey the authority’s “deep concern over the state of the discharge from McCain’s plant”, Cllr Cockerill said: “The key message that has been ignored or missed by the press is that there was a step improvement in the water quality in South Bay this year.
“It is worth noting that if the classification had been based on this year alone it would be satisfactory.
“It is only classed as poor as the classification is an average over the last four years.
“Regrettably, most people omit or fail to recognise this important aspect in relation to the overall classification.
“Three factors have been identified [in an Environment Agency study] as contributing factors to the high levels of contamination in the South Bay; human sewage, gull sewage [and] dog sewage.
“Although there is evidence of some contamination from the Wheatcroft outfall it is not consistent or significant during the peak or spike in measurements which most influence the scoring of the classification.
“Although it is considered to be unlikely to be a major contributing factor, it does need to be monitored and assessed and that is the responsibility of the Environment Agency.”
Cllr Cockerill also announced that the council planned to introduce “beach wardens” who would enforce dog fouling regulations and ask people to pick up litter they had left on beaches to cut the mess and improve cleanliness.
He ended his speech by saying: “This is far from a simple problem and it is unlikely to be solved quickly.
“I will state that the borough council continues to take an active and proactive part in the work to improve the situation, not only in South Bay but on all our designated bathing beaches.”