Sewage warnings issued at Budleigh Salterton, Exmouth and Sidmouth.


Devon beaches you shouldn’t swim at as sewage warnings issued including Budleigh Salterton, Exmouth and Sidmouth.

Colleen Smith


People are being advised not to go into the sea at several beaches across Devon by Surfers Against Sewage who monitor discharge from sewers and water quality.

Alerts are in place for 14 beaches across the county – three in North Devon and 11 in South Devon.

Pollution levels are currently high due to the recent rainfall.

The poor water quality at one beach in Torbay has pushed one angry resident into labeling the resort ‘Turd-baydos’ – a play on the frequently used Torbaydos hashtag, referring to the Barbaydos-style image of sunshine and palm trees.

Holidaymakers on Torquay seafront stopped to film a homemade road sign beside Torre Abbey beach also warned: “The Victorian sewer at Preston will kill all marine life if it is not repaired right now.”

Torbay Council were asked for a comment as the sign also alleges corruption. The council press office did not wish to comment.

The sign warns holidaymakers “Turdbaydos is due to close”

But it comes as Surfers Against Sewage, which monitors discharge from sewers and water quality, has issued a number of new warnings across Devon, some following heavy rainfall.

At Preston Sands near Paignton it says bathing is not recommended. It says: “There is a sewer overflow that discharges at the northern end of the beach from the Preston Green Attenuation Tank.”

The information below was correct at the time of publication, however, these alerts may change during the course of the day.

Preston Sands Paignton

Pollution Risk Warning: Bathing not advised today due to the likelihood of reduced water quality.
Preston Sands is a large, popular sandy beach backed by a large town green and the town of Preston. There is a sewer overflow that discharges at the northern end of the beach from the Preston Green Attenuation Tank. This location is covered by Pollution Risk Forecasting.

Meadfoot Beach Torquay

Pollution Alert: Storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours.
Located on a headland between Babbacombe and Torquay is a shingle and rock beach backed by a low sea wall and imposing cliffs. It is situated in one of Britain’s most popular seaside resort areas in the heart of the English Riviera . Although there are no sewer overflows discharging directly onto the beach here, there are various sewer overflows from the surrounding urban catchment that may affect bathing water quality here. Water quality can also be impacted by diffuse pollution.

Bigbury-on-Sea South

Pollution Risk Warning: Bathing not advised today due to the likelihood of reduced water quality.
At the mouth of the River Avon, Bigbury-on-sea South connects Burgh Island to the mainland at low tide. It is a sandy beach approximately 450m wide. There is a disused sewer overflow on Bigbury-on-Sea with several others located on Bigbury-on-Sea North beach, just to the north of this beach. Sewer overflow discharges into the River Avon may also affect water quality here. This location is covered by Pollution Risk Forecasting.


Pollution Risk Warning: Bathing not advised today due to the likelihood of reduced water quality.
A sandy beach at the mouth of the River Avon, Bantham is a fairly remote beach backed by sand dunes and popular with surfers. Bantham is very popular with surfers with good beach break peaks and barrelling waves being common. There are no sewer overflows directly on the beach however a number discharge into the River Avon further upstream while the urban areas of Bantham and Buckland behind the beach also have sewer overflows that may affect bathing water here. This location is covered by Pollution Risk Forecasting.

Budleigh Salterton

Budleigh Salterton

Pollution Alert: Storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours.
With its famous large, smooth pebbles playing an integral part in its designation as an Ancient World Heritage Coastline, Budleigh Salterton is a 2km stretch of resort beach with red cliffs at the western end and the River Otter Estuary at the eastern and backed by a promenade and the town. There are three sewer overflows discharging around Budleigh Salterton. One discharges directly onto the beach, one 400m east of the bathing water and another that discharges to the sea 1.3km away. This location is covered by Pollution Risk Forecasting.


Pollution Alert: Storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours.
Shaldon is located on the west side of the Teign estuary facing east to Teignmouth. It is a sandy beach, 1.3km in length next to the town of Shaldon. There is a sewer overflow on the other side of the estuary, some 220m away. This location is covered by Pollution Risk Forecasting

Teignmouth Holcombe

Pollution Alert: Storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours.
A small sand and rock beach located at the base of tall red cliffs, Holcombe is an isolated beach backed by cliffs and a railway line. A sewer overflow discharges into the Holcombe Stream 40m upstream of the beach. Water quality can also be impacted by diffuse pollution.

Dawlish Coryton Cove

Pollution Alert: Storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours.
Historically known as Gentlemans Cove due to the privacy it offered, Coryton Cove is a secluded, sandy beach backed by red cliffs and the train track. A sewer overflow discharges over the rocks at the southern end of the beach. Water quality can also be impacted by diffuse pollution.

Dawlish Town

Pollution Risk Warning: Bathing not advised today due to the likelihood of reduced water quality.
Dawlish Town is on the south coast of Devon. It is a sandy beach resort, approximately 650 metres wide, close to the town and cliffs. There are five storm overflows covered by the Safer Seas Service within 650m off the beach which can operate in heavy rainfall. This location is covered by Pollution Risk Forecasting.


Exmouth beach on 30/5/20 (Image: Sheila Chalmers)

Pollution Alert: Storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours.
Exmouth is a large sandy resort beach at the mouth of the River Exe backed by a promenade and the town. A memento of its Victorian heyday fine gardens and parks also back the beach. There is a sewer overflow discharging through an outfall to the SE that may affect bathing water quality. This location is covered by Pollution Risk Forecasting.

Sidmouth Town

Sidmouth beach huts

Sidmouth beach huts

Pollution Risk Warning: Bathing not advised today due to the likelihood of reduced water quality.
Rock pools to the west, overhanging cliffs to the east, Sidmouth Town beach compromises 900m of legally protected pebbles broken up by rock groynes and backed by a promenade and the town. Two storm overflows are located at Sidmouth, one discharges through a long-sea outfall some 600m out to sea while the other discharges into the River Sid, just under 400m to the east. This location is covered by Pollution Risk Forecasting.


Pollution Risk Warning: Bathing not advised today due to the likelihood of reduced water quality.
The East and West Lynn Rivers meet just behind the beach and meet the sea as the Lynn River in the middle of a large expanse of shingle and rock. Lynmouth is backed by wooded cliffs and is on the edge of Exmoor National Park. Two sewer overflows discharge into the River Lynn, one upstream and one up the beach. Other overflows from the surrounding urban areas of Lynton and Lynmouth also flow into the River Lynn and may affect bathing water quality. This location is covered by Pollution Risk Forecasting.

Combe Martin

Bathing not advised due to Poor annual classification.
BATHING NOT ADVISED DUE TO POOR ANNUAL CLASIFICATION. Backed by a small resort village, Combe Martin is a sandy beach in a sheltered valley at the western edge of Exmoor National Park. The River Umber flows through a channel at the western side of the beach. A combined sewer overflow exists on the Umber River 30m upstream of the beach, with two more further upstream. Work was completed in 2015 to reduce their frequency of operation. Other inputs from the surrounding catchment may also affect water quality at Combe Martin.

Ilfracombe Wildersmouth

Bathing not advised due to Poor annual classification.
BATHING NOT ADVISED DUE TO POOR ANNUAL CLASIFICATION. A small, sand and shingle cove located directly below the town of Ilfracombe. With cliffs to the northern end the East and West Wilder Brooks which meet in the town flow out to sea here via a tunnel on the west side. A sewer overflow discharges some 30m upstream of the beach into the Wilder Brook. Other overflows for the surrounding catchment are may also affect water quality here. This location is covered by Pollution Risk Forecasting.

Pride Flag and Bisexual Flag will be shown by East Devon District Council

Thursday’s full Council Meeting was very busy and Owl is still catching up.

Daniel Clark 

East Devon District Council will fly the Pride Flag and Bisexual Flag outside its Blackdown House HQ to coincide with Pride Month in June and Bisexual Visibility Day on September 23.

Councillors on Thursday night almost unanimously voted to back the two motions that had been put forward by Cllr Luke Jeffery and seconded by Cllr Joe Whibley.

The rainbow Pride Flag will be flown during Pride Month, June, and on the same day as any pride events which take place within the district, while the council committed to engage with local LGBT+ charities and advocacy groups to see how EDDC can better support its LGBT+ community.

The Bisexual flag will also be flown outside of Blackdown house on Bisexual Visibility Day to promote awareness around the specific challenges faced by the bisexual community, and the council will also include specific materials about the bisexual community in any equalities training it runs for staff.

Putting forward his motions, Cllr Jeffery, who is the youngest member of the council, said that he was concerned that the number of hate crimes against people in Devon and Cornwall on the basis of their sexual orientation rose by 9.6 per cent and against transgender people hate crimes rose by 26.5 per cent in 2018-19.

He added: “No-one should have to experience hate or have their validity of their existence questioned, which is something many LGBT+ people will have experience of. The council can show solidarity with the LGBT+ community and we can make a public statement of support for the community and it would mean a great deal as a gesture.

“It is important that East Devon shows solidarity with its LGBT+ community who make up such an important part of our community. As openly bisexual, we do face specific challenges in the LGBT+ community, for example, frequent bi-phobia, being confused or extremely promiscuous, or that we simply don’t exist. I should know as I have heard them all myself, and given the challenges that go unnoticed, I proposed this to combat bi-phobia, as ignorance of the issues is the greatest issue.”

Cllr Whibley, supporting the motion, added: “I was saddened to learn that flying the Pride Flag was not done as a matter of course. It gives hope to people that they are not alone, isolated, or without support.

“I grew up gay in a rural environment where a homosexual was considered as rare a beast as a Scottish Conservative, but I was lucky enough that family and friends showed understanding and compassion and my sexuality mattered not one jot, but not everyone is that lucky. This is helping to drag the council into the 21 st century kicking and screaming and this is the right thing to do.

“People may say if we do this, then we have to do it for all the other minority groups, so I say, let’s do that, as that’s a great idea.”

Cllr Paul Millar added that this was vital to be supported as discrimination against the LGBT+ communities still exists today.

He said: “I was in my first year at Exmouth Community College when I first faced homophobic bullying from classmates. At that point I had just turned 13. Children by their very nature tend to bully other children if they show any difference to any area of vulnerability, and I was a posh sounding Oxford boy in a Devon town.

“The teachers were silent of challenging homophobia against me and others in the classroom, and homosexuality was not mentioned in any sex education or part of the curriculum. Being LGBT+ was not a way of life that held any bright future for anyone with no positive role models or anyone to look up to.

“For me, quietly coming out in my late 20s without any fanfare, I compared it to how an elderly octogenarian would feel if they decided to ride a bike for their 82 nd birthday. I was somewhat confused and slightly out of my depth, and I still struggle with my identity today.

“As much as society has changed, discrimination against the LGBT+ still exists in much subtler forms – that’s why we don’t have an openly gay or bisexual footballer, even though they must exist.

“I was in my local pub last year and overheard a man say ‘I hate it when they hold hands – keep it in your own backyard’. Ten years ago I wouldn’t have challenged that and may have nervously laughed along or shamefully joined in. But now I can challenge it, I did challenge it, I’m glad I challenged it, and we should all challenge it, as you don’t know who might be in earshot who is bottling up their life, and that was me once.”

Leader of the council, Cllr Paul Arnott, added that he was delighted to be backing the motions and that he will be there when the flag goes up outside Blackdown House, while Cllr Andrew Moulding, leader of the Conservative group, added that his group would be supporting the two motions.

There were 46 votes to three abstentions, in favour of the celebrating pride in East Devon motion, while the tackling Bi-phobia motion was passed by 44 votes, three abstentions.

Speaking after the meeting Cllr Jeffery said: “I am delighted to see EDDC approve these two motions, it shows how EDDC is determined to show solidarity with its LGBT+ community who make up such an important part of our community. As an openly bisexual councillor I am especially pleased to see the motion recognising the specific challenges faced by my community and look forward to seeing the bisexual flag outside Blackdown house in September.”

Cllr Whibley added: “I am delighted and relieved that EDDC councillors do indeed live in the 21st Century and recognise the importance of this motion, and the positive benefits of recognising such important causes.”

Appeal issued after former East Devon council CEO dies of asbestos-related cancer

East Devon District Council’s former chief executive officer (CEO) died of asbestos-related cancer, an inquest has heard.

Industrial disease has been recorded as the cause of death of John Vallender.

Assistant coroner Debra Archer said the malignant mesothelioma was more than likely caused by asbestos exposure during Mr Vallender’s employment.

John Vallender, who was EDDC’s CEO between July 1984 and June 2002, was given the mesothelioma diagnosis in January 2018.

The 72-year-old father-of-three sadly passed away in November 2019.

Before his death, he instructed expert asbestos-related disease lawyers at Simpson Millar to investigate his employment history.

According to a freedom of information request the building – which has now been sold – contains large quantities of asbestos.

In the 90s action was taken to remove asbestos from the council chamber, and whilst the council acknowledged its presence in the building, it is claimed that the fibres were not disturbed and would have been safe.

Speaking of his ordeal before his death, Mr Vallender said: “The council building itself was very old, large and dusty.

“My office was refurbished during my time there and I saw people carrying out maintenance activity over the years and that included rubbing down fire doors and working up in the roof space above the offices on the top floor.

“It feels very plausible that I – as well as my colleagues – would have been inhaling dangerous and microscopic asbestos fibres as a result or working in and walking around the entire buildings, over the years.”

An EDDC spokesman said: “We note the comments of the family’s solicitor and the council was not present at the inquest.

“There is ongoing litigation involving the council’s insurers and a further comment in this respect would not be appropriate. We extend our sympathies to John’s family and our thoughts are with them.”

Simpson Millar is now appealing on behalf of Mr Vallender’s family for anyone else who worked at The Knowle between 1984 and 2002 to come forward with any information on any work undertaken over the years.

If anyone has any information contact Helen Grady of Simpson Millar on 0808 129 3320 or email


Coronavirus cases rising in Devon and falling in Cornwall

The number of coronavirus cases confirmed across Devon has doubled in the past week – but has nearly halved in Cornwall.

Daniel Clark 

Government statistics show that 42 new cases have been confirmed across the region in the past seven days in both pillar 1 data from tests carried out by the NHS and pillar 2 data from commercial partners, compared to 34 new cases confirmed last week.

It means that an average of 6 rather than 4.85 cases a day are being confirmed across the two counties, with 32 of the 42 cases having a specimen date having a specimen date from August 14 to August 21, and the other ten dating back to August 10.

The number of confirmed cases in Cornwall over the last week has dropped from 14 to eight, while the same number of cases, seven, were recorded in Plymouth – of which four were in the Honicknowle & Manadon MSOA area.

Weekly rate of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population tested

In Torbay, the number has risen from one to three, while across the rest of Devon, the numbers have more than doubled, from 12 to 26.

It means that in Cornwall, at present, 1.14 cases a day on average are being confirmed, with one case a day in Plymouth, with 0.42 cases in Torbay and 3.71 across the rest of Devon.

Of the cases confirmed in the last week, four of Cornwall’s cases occurred with the specimen date of August 14 or later, with five of the cases in Plymouth, 22 in Devon, and one case in Torbay.

Across the Devon County Council area, of the 22 cases, nine were in East Devon (of which four were in Seaton), four in Exeter, three in Mid Devon and North Devon, two in the South Hams and Teignbridge, and one in Torridge. No new cases were confirmed this week in West Devon.

By specimen date, the most recent case in Teignbridge, Exeter, Mid Devon, Torridge and the South Hams is from August 19, from August 18 in East Devon, Plymouth, North Devon, Torbay, and Cornwall, and August 10 in West Devon.

Across the whole of the South West, 230 cases have so far been confirmed for the previous seven day period, with 68 of them in Swindon, which despite media reports of facing a ‘local lockdown’, has seen the number of new cases decrease in the past week.

In terms of cases by specimen between August 11 to August 17 and reported by August 21, there are two Middle Super Output Areas across Devon and Cornwall that had four cases confirmed – Honicknowle & Manadon in Plymouth and Seaton in East Devon. Everywhere has had between 0-2 cases.

The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 in the South West has fallen in the previous week, dropping down to 17 from 18, with there being just one person in intensive care.

This week saw three hospital deaths in the South West – but the last death in a hospital in Devon and Cornwall occurred on June 29 – and for the second week in a row, no deaths were recorded in Devon in the ONS statistics.

The R Rate for the South West is now being estimated as between 0.8 and 1.1, up from 0.8 to 1.0 as of last week, and could be both the lowest and highest in the country, but it covers a large geographical area and low case numbers mean the estimates is insufficiently robust to inform policy decisions.

Torridge remains the place in England with the lowest overall positivity rate, and is 3rd in the overall table behind Na h-Eileanan Siar (Outer Hebrides) and the Orkney Islands.

Including Scotland and Wales as well, the South Hams is 7th, North Devon 9th, West Devon 10th, Teignbridge 13th, East Devon 14th, Cornwall 15th, Exeter 21 st , Torbay 27th, Mid Devon 48th and Plymouth 51st of the 369 regions

In total, Torridge has had 57 positive cases, West Devon 75, with 103 in the South Hams, 125 in North Devon, 215 in Mid Devon, 217 in Teignbridge, 239 in East Devon, 258 in Exeter, 288 in Torbay, 693 in Plymouth and 961 in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Testing being carried out at Leeds Temple Green Park and Ride, part of the Government’s UK-wide drive to increase testing for thousands more NHS workers (Image: Danny Lawson/PA Wire)

The COVID-19 cases are identified by taking specimens from people and sending these specimens to laboratories around the UK to be tested. If the test is positive, this is a referred to as a lab-confirmed case.

Confirmed positive cases are matched to ONS geographical area codes using the home postcode of the person tested.

The data is now shown by the date the specimen was taken from the person being tested and while it gives a useful analysis of the progression of cases over time, it does mean that the latest days’ figures may be incomplete.

Cases received from laboratories by 12:30am are included in the counts published that day. While there may have been new cases of coronavirus confirmed or people having tested positive, those test results either yet to reach PHE for adding to the dataset or were not received in time for the latest daily figures to be published.

Putting these figures in a broader perspective

Owl has been tracking the Covid Symptom study as a useful proxy measure of the prevalence of Covid-19 because it is based on a very large (though self-selecting) sample and provides consistency across time. Over the UK the study estimates of infection rates correlate with the latest ONS estimates. It is becoming recognised that, to date, most officially confirmed cases present an underestimate and there is a considerable number of asymptomatic or very mild cases. What this table shows is that the number of active cases in the community shows considerable volatility but there is no particular cause for alarm at the moment.

8 July

15 July 25 July 30 July 21 August
North Devon 79 324 1076 561 327
East Devon 483 181 865 300 285
Torbay 386 715 228 Zero 331
South Hams 529 306 713 706



Estimated active case/million people under revised calculation methods (prevalence)  Aged 20-69

The Covid symptom study is now converting prevalence and showing estimated active cases (people with symptoms and likely to be infective) for each district as follows:

North Devon 19; East Devon 29; Torbay 25; South Hams 17

Tourists head to the southwest with some locals refuse to welcome them

From Lulworth Cove to Bubleigh (sic) Salterton, from St Ives to Bude, Woolacombe to Minehead and every beach in between, accents from all over the country can be heard – as commonplace as the pasty shops.”

Jon Lewis 

As a large population of the country decides against the risk of holidaying abroad, the southwest of England is welcoming more guests than ever – but faces the risks associated with the virus.

Based on stats alone it would appear Devon and Cornwall have gotten off lightly when it comes to coronavirus.

The South Hams was one of the first places in the UK to report a case of Covid-19, but since then there have been just over 2,000 more cases in Devon, with about 900 having been reported in Cornwall since early March.

While other picturesque parts of the country such as Cumbria suffered during lockdown with day-trippers blamed for spreading the virus, the westcountry – stung by those early cases – shut up shop quickly with a police force determined to enforce the letter of the law and angry, social-media savvy locals armed with smartphones and a passion for passive aggression ready to expose any second-home owners flouting the rules.

There are many in the southwest who would prefer it to have stayed that way, but this is a region which relies heavily on its tourism industry.

“It had got to the point where we had to open again,” says Victoria Norris, 46, who runs Tall Ships Creamery ice cream shop in Charlestown on the south Cornwall coast.

“Only time will tell if we have made the right decision. We have had a lot of holidaymakers down here and by the beginning of September we will know how lucky we have been.”

Victoria was so concerned by the spread of the virus that she shut down her business before the government made closure compulsory. She also refused to reopen until June – after her engineer fiance Scott Anstey had completely revamped her two small shops in the village to ensure they were completely Covid-safe.

She only allows one household into the shop at a time and employs a strict two-metre social distancing rule at all times.

“When we were closed there was a lot of pressure from people asking when we were going to open again, but I wasn’t prepared to risk my staff, their families or myself,” Victoria says.

“I won’t change what I have done. If we ever get back to a point of everything being safe I will keep my shops as they are.

“When people come down on holiday they do forget about the virus and social distancing just goes out of the window. We have a two-metre rule in the shop and some people love it while others think it is ridiculous… but we don’t want to get ill.

“I went kayaking the other day and I heard someone with a northern accent on the beach. They were doing no social distancing whatsoever and it just made me want to jump in the sea and get away as quickly as possible.

“I won’t go to the beach. I keep myself to myself. There are just too many people at the moment.”

The last few months have taken their toll regardless of the virus stats. Any further delay in easing lockdown would have even more businesses facing closure than have already done so.

Now hotels, B&Bs, campsites, theme parks, ice cream vendors are all open again and have rarely been busier, boosted by a nation of holidaymakers desperate for a sense of freedom but fearful that overseas travel could mean contracting the virus, a two-week spell in quarantine on their return, or both.

And therein lies the catch-22 for many in Devon and Cornwall – they have to reopen and welcome visitors from other parts of the UK where the virus is more prevalent in order for survive economically, but what will the cost be to their own health?

Croyde and Georgeham in North Devon is home to one of the country’s most magnificent beaches and anything up to 10,000 holidaymakers in peak season – but a mere 700 or so hardy souls out of it.

“It’s probably busier now than in previous years, but that’s because people are staying in the UK rather than going abroad,” says parish council chairman John Symonds, who has counted himself among those 700 his whole life.

“Holidaymakers aren’t adhering to social distancing, it’s carnage down there. One campsite has a rule of 10 metres between each tent, but another site has got 1,200 people packed into a small field. What can you do?

“People and businesses have had it hard out there and now they are trying to catch up. You cannot blame them for taking the money now it’s on offer. I don’t think it will cause a second spike, but it’s obvious something will happen here.”

Sam Scott, a resident of neighbouring Ilfracombe for 15 years, agrees.

“At the start of lockdown I would have been outraged at holidaymakers coming down here, but now I’m more accepting of it,” he says.

“Yes, I am concerned about holidaymakers spreading the virus, but I would be more concerned about holiday businesses around North Devon going under. It’s a really fine line between protecting vulnerable people in the community and in Devon hospitals, and looking after local businesses.

“If people weren’t on holiday I like to think they would be a bit more sensible when it comes to social distancing, but I can understand them not doing it – they are on holiday and want to relax.”

Sunseekers have certainly seen the recent heatwave as an opportunity to make the most of the southwest.

From Lulworth Cove to Bubleigh Salterton, from St Ives to Bude, Woolacombe to Minehead and every beach in between, accents from all over the country can be heard – as commonplace as the pasty shops.

The corner of the UK thronging with people is nothing new in summer, but when you add in the need for social distancing the narrow lanes and 50cm wide cobbled pavements only heighten the sense of claustrophobia.

In Totnes cars have been banned completely from the narrow main road through the town on Saturday mornings in order to allow pedestrian shoppers to socially distance – it’s simply impossible to do so otherwise.

Other resorts such as Perranporth in North Cornwall have put cones down in the roads of the busiest streets and employed marshalls in an attempt to widen the pavements.

“It’s better than nothing,” said one local resident. “You speak to tourists who say they have come down here to get away from the virus… but I’m thinking ‘you could be bringing it down to us’.

“At this time of year it’s usually busy, but this year it’s just gone completely mental. We will be lucky to not get a second spike.”