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21/07/17: Pat Evans with his new beach cleaning machine

It's one of South Wales’ finest beaches yet visitors have long had to pick their way through broken glass, cigarette butts and fast-food packaging to find the perfect sunbathing spot.

But this summer things are going to be very different at Sandy Bay in Porthcawl.

For Coney Beach funfair owner Pat Evans – whose family has been at the site for almost a century – has invested around £35,000 in a new beach cleaning machine.

Pulled by tractor, the machine’s metal spikes dig into the sand to pull out any litter and dump it in a hopper on the back.

Pat, who also places bins on the large section of beach the family owns, hopes that daily cleans will address the annual surge in complaints about the state of the sand.

“I think it’s as good a beach as you’ll find anywhere in the world,” he said.

“There have been nice positive reactions to what we’re doing on social media.”

Pat has been stung by repeated criticism from visitors and Porthcawl residents over the amount of litter left on the beach.

But he said that for years he has tried to come to an arrangement with Bridgend council , which owns a section of the beach from the dunes down to Rhych Point, over co-funding beach cleaning equipment or support funding applications, as the machine could then be used on other beaches in Porthcawl.

He said years of discussions had come to nothing, with the council only offering to charge him £14,000 annually for the collection and disposal of waste, a cost he said is too high.

But with negotiations apparently going nowhere and the litter bugs failing to heed advice to bin their waste, Pat has now invested around £35,000 in a tractor and a beach cleaning machine.

He spends around an hour and a half combing the sand in front of their property, which extends down as far as the Wimpy burger bar.

He said his company also pays to dispose of the waste they collect from the beach and walkways in front of their businesses, which last year set them back £82,000.

Pat’s ambition is for Sandy Bay, also known as Coney Beach, to be awarded a Blue Flag , widely considered to be the gold standard for beaches.

Visitor Marion Coleman, 65, from the Rhondda, said: “I have definitely noticed a difference. It’s definitely cleaner.”

Friend Idwal Inkpen, 70, also from the Rhondda, added: “We usually go to Rest Bay because it’s cleaner, but the last couple of times we have come to Sandy Bay because this is cleaner now.”

A Bridgend council spokesman said: “Public funds cannot be used to maintain privately-owned land, particularly when that land primarily supports income-generating private enterprises.

“As with any other privately-owned location in the county borough, its cleansing and upkeep remain the responsibility of the landowner.

“The council already maintains a section of the headland and has previously made various offers to support the private landowner in keeping their part of the beach clean, but it cannot be done at the taxpayer’s expense – nor can we issue penalty notices for littering if the offence occurs on private land.

“We’re pleased to see the introduction of the new equipment, and hope that it will help keep the privately-owned part of the beach clean.”

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