The latest list of bathing water quality ratings for beaches in Sussex has been revealed - and people have been told not to swim at one location.

The Environment Agency tests more than 400 sites around the country for E coli and intestinal enterococci, both bacteria which are found in human faeces.

Samples are taken between May and September each year which is when the authority said it expects most people to be sea swimming.

Beaches are given scores from zero stars which is a “poor” rating advising people not to swim, one star which is “sufficient”, two stars which is “good” or three stars which is “excellent”.

Kirsty Davies, community bathing water manager for environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage, said: “The current testing system is a farce and not fit for purpose. Bathing water classifications give water-users a false sense of safety in what is a small snapshot of overall water quality.

"What we need is improved real-time monitoring so that water-users can make informed decisions before they enter the water."

Bexhill got a one-star rating for the fourth year in a row since 2019, meaning it is only sufficient in terms of bathing water quality.

The Argus: Bexhill Beach got a one star rating for the fourth year in a rowBexhill Beach got a one star rating for the fourth year in a row

Brighton Central which is west of the Palace Pier recorded a two-star good rating for the second year in a row. Brighton is down from a three-star excellent rating in 2021.

Aldwick in Bognor has been given a zero-star poor rating for the second year in a row which means people are advised not to swim in the area due to presence of E coli and intestinal enterococci in the water.

The beach was previously given two stars with a good rating in 2021.

Arun District Council, which manages the beach, described the recent rating as “disappointing”.

A spokeswoman said it is meeting monthly with authorities and Southern Water to “tackle possible sources of pollution”. The council said 2023 also saw a “reduction” in E Coli and intestinal enterococci in the water.

Southern Water said it is carrying out work to find any sewage pipe misconnections which it describes as an “invisible threat” to our waterways. The company said it is hopeful that it will see an improvement by tackling misconnections as it has with Eastbourne.

Eastbourne was given a two-star good rating for 2023, up from a one-star sufficient rating the previous year. The town received a good rating in 2021.

For Eastbourne, the Environment Agency said it discovered that a privately owned sewer had been discharging into the sea in 2022. This sewer was repaired which has resulted in the town moving back up to a good rating. The town last had an excellent rating in 2017.

The Argus: Eastbourne Beach has improved on its 2022 scoreEastbourne Beach has improved on its 2022 score

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Josh Babarinde said Sussex’s seas are being polluted on an “industrial” scale.

He said: “It’s a scandal that, under this government, our water quality has been downgraded from the ‘excellent’ rating we once held in my wonderful hometown of Eastbourne.”

Rother District Council, which manages the Bexhill beach, said it is working with other authorities as well as holding monthly meetings with Southern Water to identify “the causes of poor bathing water quality and taking steps to resolve those issues”.

The full list from West to East can be found here:

  • Bracklesham Bay – excellent
  • Selsey – excellent
  • Pagham – good, down from excellent in 2022
  • Bognor (Aldwick) – poor, bathing not advised
  • Bognor East – good
  • Felpham – good
  • Middleton – excellent
  • Littlehampton – good
  • Worthing – good
  • Lancing – excellent
  • Shoreham – excellent
  • Southwick – excellent
  • Hove – excellent
  • Brighton Central – good
  • Kemptown – excellent
  • Saltdean – excellent
  • Seaford – excellent
  • Birling Gap – excellent
  • Eastbourne – good, up from sufficient
  • Pevensey Bay – good
  • Normans Bay – excellent, up from good
  • Bexhill – sufficient
  • St Leonards – excellent
  • Hastings – good
  • Winchelsea – good, down from excellent