Petition's success wins battling beach hut owners full debate

Some of the huts which have been stranded on the prom because of beach erosion

Some of the huts which have been stranded on the prom because of beach erosion - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Campaigners fighting to keep on the seafront a group of beach huts marooned on a resort's prom have secured a full council debate on their future.

The prom near the Spa Pavilion theatre at Felixstowe has seen 44 beach huts placed there for three years after beach erosion meant they couldn’t stay on the beach itself.

New locations have been secured for all but 14 of the huts, prompting the council to say it was terminating licences as there were no other options.

Campaigners have continued to battle to stay ahead of East Suffolk Council’s March 31 deadline.

But the authority has now confirmed that the matter will go before May’s full council meeting.

Felixstowe beach hut owners raged after being told they are being evicted from their beach huts

Felixstowe beach hut owners angry at being told they are being evicted from their hut sites - Credit: Charlotte Bond

An online petition, started two weeks ago, was submitted to the council on March 25, and has now garnered more than 2,850 signatures.

An East Suffolk Council spokesperson said: “As the petition raised by the beach hut owners has over 1,200 signatures, it will automatically go to the next full council meeting on Wednesday, May 25.”

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A host of options are available to the council meeting, including upholding its current position or it could hold a referendum locally with options.

It is not yet clear if the securing of a debate in May means the deadline for this Thursday changes.

Meanwhile, a judicial review of the council’s decision-making on the beach huts has also not been ruled out by campaigners.

Julie Downton, Beach Hut Association secretary, said: “The judicial review has been brought about because the licences were terminated on February 14 – before they had even gone to the planning meeting.”

She said campaigners were “prepared to take it all the way,” because “these huts mean so much to people,” adding: “It would be a travesty to actually see where the first beach huts were in England there will no longer be any. I think that’s very sad.”

Hut owners have suggested a series of options, such as waiting for the beach to replenish naturally, and paying for the building of new platforms - as beach hut owners have done in Undercliff Road East where similar problems occurred - or setting them back from the prom in ‘niches’ cut into a grass bank.

But East Suffolk Council says it has “thoroughly explored all reasonable options”.

It says it is an issue of safety as the stretch of prom - narrowed by the ongoing stay of the huts - is used by walkers and cyclists, and "the considerable disruption caused to other visitors".

Felixstowe was one of the first beaches in the country to have housed beach huts, with the popular seafront structures having arrived there in the late 19th century.