Cameras help to stub out seaside smoking

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The seaside resort of Bournemouth struck a blow for clean air and clean living yesterday when its town council announced that it has banned smoking on stretches of its sands, and has installed CCTV cameras along its coastline.

The moves came as the popular holiday town was awarded a sought after European Blue Flag award, along with 37 other United Kingdom beaches.

David Jones, the town's sea-front manager, said: "[The no-smoking idea] was quickly adopted. We now have three areas, each about 100 metres wide, where smoking is banned. There is not a bye-law to enforce this - it is just a voluntary code."

Most sunseekers backed the initiative. Cyril Bailey, a pensioner, said: "The beaches in Bournemouth and Poole are clean and healthy. I've been to beaches across Europe and none compare to these. No-smoking areas are an important part of that."

But Rick Morrison was angered by the ban. "Soon people will have no freedoms left," he said.

And it's not just the smokers who are seeing changes. Coy bathers who struggle under towels to get their clothes off and swimsuit on may blush a little deeper, as surveillance cameras tape their every move. "CCTV was installed to combat vandalism, crime and bad behaviour," said Mr Jones. "Last year it helped with 40 arrests and has slashed the pounds 100,000 vandalism bills."

Blue Flag officials heralded Bournemouth, in Dorset, and the neighbouring town of Poole, as fine examples of "good beaches with good management". Dorset boasted three of England's twenty-two nominated beaches, with Wales receiving nine awards, Northern Ireland six and Scotland one. More than twice the number of UK beaches gained accreditation than in 1995, and, across Europe, 2,311 Blue Flags were awarded.

Jim Ross, beach services manager at Poole, said: "Families on our sands feel safe. We are proud of what we have done ... more resorts are starting to take beach management seriously."