Felixstowe beach hut owners’ protests delays big rent rise for at least a year

Beach huts at Old Felixstowe. PHOTO: Janice Poulson

Beach huts at Old Felixstowe. PHOTO: Janice Poulson - Credit: citizenside.com

Beach hut owners are facing a 3.25% rent increase next year for their seaside retreats – because huge opposition to radical changes to licences has delayed plans for a 10% rise.

So many beach hut owners attended Suffolk Coastal District Council cabinet meeting last month on pro

So many beach hut owners attended Suffolk Coastal District Council cabinet meeting last month on proposed changes to hut fees that many were forced to stand outside. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

The 900 hut owners at Felixstowe will see the reduced increase – if approved by Suffolk Coastal’s cabinet on January 3 – as a small victory in a long fight against proposals which could see rents double in the next decade.

The district council was set to approve a 10% increase every year until 2027, which would increase annual income by £430,000 to £736,000, and the switch to a new 10-year lease, which would also require hut owners to pay a £7,000 premium at its end.

However, following a huge protest, the council has now agreed to hold a six-week consultation on the ideas.

Roy Gray, vice chairman of the Felixstowe Beach Hut and Chalet Association, said: “We need to get as many hut owners as possible to take part in the consultation if we are to change Suffolk Coastal’s mind on this issue.

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“The association will also be preparing a full response and we will be holding a public meeting early in the new year to get members’ views so that we reflect the opinion of the membership.

“We thank members who attended at Suffolk Coastal and we believe that the force of the membership of the association helped persuade the council to hold the consultation.”

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Senior officers of the association last week met with Suffolk Coastal’s leader Ray Herring, deputy leader Geoff Holdcroft and cabinet member for leisure, TJ Haworth-Culf, and council officers to discuss the authority’s proposals.

The group was told no final decisions will be taken before April as the council will need time to analyse responses to the consultation. It will go to cabinet later in the year. Any new system will not come into effect before April 1, 2018.

A report to cabinet says the 3.25% rent rise “is equal to an increase of £5 in council tax”.

Mr Holdcroft said: “The reality is that we have some tough decisions to make. We are faced with dwindling financial support from central Government. In order to maintain our services, while protecting the local tax payer, we need to increase the amount of income we generate.”

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