Sidmouth used to have 3 beaches, Eastern Beach, Town Beach, and Western Beach/Jacob’s Ladder Beach but now it only really has two. Eastern Beach has become unsafe due to the rapid erosion of the cliffs and the danger they pose. So Sidmouth has a problem; how do you promote the two safe swimming beaches and yet pursuade people not to use Eastern Beach?
At low tide it is often possible to walk from the bit of beach at the Ham, around the ‘Training Wall’ and on to Eastern Beach without seeing the warning signs by the access steps at Alma Bridge. This shore access to the beach will become available more often if the training wall which directs the outflow of the River Sid is shortened, as is proposed in the Beach Management Plan.
We can’t remove the steps to the beach because of the possibility of people approaching Sidmouth along the beach from the east and then finding themselves cut off. But when the new bridge replaces the Alma Bridge the steps will also go and how will we safeguard people then?
Awards for Sidmouth’s Town Beach
Tourism is encouraged by being able to advertise standards for a beach. Many years ago it was the water quality that drew people as many beaches in the country were relatively polluted, now that most beaches have addressed that problem you need something else to differentiate between ‘good’ and ‘average’. This is where intenational awards, administered for this country by Keep Britain Tidy, come into play. The very top beaches in the world have Blue Flag status, those who can’t quite reach that standard aim to get a Seaside Award.
In 2019, for the first time, Sidmouth got a Seaside Award in the Resort category. You can only be a ‘resort’ if you have a sea which is safe for swimming and water activities as well as a beach where dogs are banned during the bathing season.
The next award we want is a Blue Flag! On 7th June 2019 Pete Blyth, EDDC’s Beach Safety Officer, came to talk to us about what needs to be done. Read a report on his talk here