Move to almost double beach hut fees over next eight years is dropped

Beach huts on Felixstowe sea front. Picture: MICK WEBB

Beach huts on Felixstowe sea front. Picture: MICK WEBB - Credit: citizenside.com

Council chiefs have made a U-turn on proposed controversial changes to beach hut rent in east Suffolk following widespread protest, including a march along a seafront.

Suffolk Coastal District Council (SCDC) has dropped plans to change the current annual licence for a plot in Felixstowe and Sizewell to a 10-year lease and to introduce a £7,000 up-front premium to take on a lease, signalling a part victory for groups which came out in force against the scheme.

The authority wanted to increase tariffs for beach hut sites in the two coastal towns by 10% annually over the next eights years – which would see rent almost double in price during that period - but it will now implement the rise over the next three years only and then review the situation.

Council bosses are instead recommending three-year licences are given, to save the cost of issuing a new one each year, and they want to set a £600 administrative fee for new hut owners.

SCDC still wants to increase the number of seaside shacks in the district by at least 10%, which could see between 50 to 100 new hut built in Felixstowe.

Barbara Grace and Alan Sarfas, who chopped 18 inches off their beach hut – ‘Idle Hours’ – to avoid rent rises three years ago, promised to rebuild it outside Suffolk Coastal headquarters if the council approved plans to replace annual lease agreements with decade-long contracts.

The pair were among founding members of the Felixstowe Beach Hut and Chalet Association, which is due to meet on Tuesday evening to discuss its response to the council’s rethink of proposals.

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Mrs Grace said: “It appears to be a massive turnaround.

“I think the council realised we’re not just a bunch of stick-waving old ladies, but a force to be reckoned with.”

The new recommendations are included in a report set to go before Suffolk Coastal’s cabinet on Tuesday, September 5.

Councillors will be advised that the recommendations will address the need for full-cost recovery for administration and a commercial return on a non-statutory service, while balancing the wider views of the beach hut owner community.

During consultation, 700 responses and about 100 letters were received from the public.

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