Beach hut owners' anger at rent rise
By Richard SmithANGRY beach hut owners have warned they will fight a substantial increase in renting their sites along a resort's promenade.Almost 1,000 owners in Felixstowe will be hit with new bills in April, with the majority likely to be told by Suffolk Coastal District Council to pay 15% more.
By Richard Smith
ANGRY beach hut owners have warned they will fight a substantial increase in renting their sites along a resort's promenade.
Almost 1,000 owners in Felixstowe will be hit with new bills in April, with the majority likely to be told by Suffolk Coastal District Council to pay 15% more.
The council received £202,500 this financial year in rents from the 967 huts and chalets and this will rise significantly from April when the authority tries to maximise income and keep council tax rises to a minimum.
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It wants to increase rents from between 10% and 15%, apart from 24 chalets at Cliff House where the bills will rise by 5%.
Beach hut owners pay a basic charge, a business rate, VAT and then a surcharge per square metre if their hut is bigger than the standard size of 2.13 metres by 2.43m.
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Over the past three years the rises have left beach hut owners with a huge increase in their rents - for instance, people with a hut on 55 sites by the Spa Pavilion will pay £383 in April for a standard sized hut, compared with £283 in 2001.
At Manor End, a small committee will campaign on behalf of 58 owners for a smaller increase than the expected 15%.
Committee member Brian Godbold, from Ipswich, has used a hut for 50 years and paid £240 in rent for the 12 months ending on March 31.
''The increase is ridiculous, it is unbelievable. I cannot believe how they can possibly come to that figure because we do not get anything for that except for a water tap,” he said.
''A lot of the people down here are OAPs and this increase will crucify some of them. I would like to see the mechanics of how they have arrived at that figure.''
Fellow committee member, Basil Double, 83, of Gleneagles Drive, Ipswich, was also angry at the proposed increase.
Mr Double and his wife Sybil make up to 130 trips annually to their beach hut at Manor End.
''People will be amazed at such an increase. The council do nothing for us at all and yet they get about £20,000 out of the huts on this strip of shingle,” he claimed.
''The promenade is not swept of shingle at our end and it is very difficult for people in wheelchairs and those on crutches.''
A spokeswoman for Suffolk Coastal District Council said: ''The council is having to take tough decisions in order to keep its council tax low and has had to review all its sources of income, including beach hut fees.
“The proposed increase is, in our judgment, the current market value of these facilities bearing in mind demand.''