Beach hut owners consider private security after spate of arson attacks in Essex

Noreen Stoker in front of the beach huts that have been set alight in Walton-on-the-Naze. Picture:

Noreen Stoker in front of the beach huts that have been set alight in Walton-on-the-Naze. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Beach hut owners are considering private security after a spate of vandalism, it has been revealed.

Hut associations from around Tendring are due to meet on December 7 with the district council and police to discuss the ongoing issue.

It comes after several break-ins and arson attacks, especially in Walton-on-the-Naze, where huts along Southcliff in particular have been targeted.

Figures from the Beach Hut Owners Association of Walton reveal there have been 60 huts targeted since March – with 33 of those in the past six weeks – though the numbers could be much higher as not all hut owners are members.

Six huts damaged or destroyed in arson attackFrustration as more beach huts vandalisedWalton beach huts targeted againNoreen Stoker, association chairwoman, said members had been advised to remove flammable objects and to board up their huts, as it was insecure properties that were being targeted.

Three more beach huts were set on fire at Walton-on-the-Naze on Sunday, November 26. Picture: FRINTO

Three more beach huts were set on fire at Walton-on-the-Naze on Sunday, November 26. Picture: FRINTON FIRE STATION/ECFRS - Credit: Archant

She said: “We have been talking with police, Tendring District Council and other associations and a meeting is planned. I am hoping to get something from this and that we come up with a good way forward, because what is going on is totally unacceptable.


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“We have discussed private security, we are looking into it. If we think it’s the best thing we could take it on.

“There are more people around in the summer, so it is always more of an issue off-season.

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“The majority have taken place in the back rows of the huts where they are out of sight of the promenade.

The scene of a beach hut fire in Walton-on-the-Naze. Picture: ESSEX COUNTY FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE

The scene of a beach hut fire in Walton-on-the-Naze. Picture: ESSEX COUNTY FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE - Credit: ESSEX COUNTY FIRE AND RESCUE SER

“It is difficult to say what can be done, it’s not just about CCTV.

“Wider patrols would be good, but police have done quite a lot to increase their patrols – they have worked quite well with us, but obviously they have other duties they are called to.”

Mick Skeels, Tendring district councillor for leisure and tourism, recognised it is a serious situation.

He said: “We have decided to get round the table with the various beach hut associations to discuss what can be done.

“Although this seems to be a particular problem in Walton at the moment we have decided to ask associations from Brightlingsea, Clacton and Holland, Dovercourt and Frinton to join us.

“It will be an opportunity for us all to get our heads together and explore all the possible options available to us.

“We completely understand how devastating these arson attacks are for owners and hopefully we can come up with some positive ideas.”

Insp Darren Deex, of the Tendring Community Policing Team, added: “There is no one single agency which can resolve this issue on their own. The problem will require a multi-agency partnership approach to tackle offenders and introduce a long-term sustainable solution to protecting beach huts.”

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