Monday, 22 June 2015

East Devon beach huts: “The proposal was procedurally incorrect, uncosted, reputationally damaging, harmful"

The District Council has launched a consultation on the future of its beach huts:
Futures Forum: East Devon beach huts: consultation to 13th July

There has been quite some reaction so far:
Futures Forum: "Will the Sidmouth Beach Garden be trashed to make room for beach huts?"
Futures Forum: Save East Devon Beach Huts campaign launched
Futures Forum: East Devon beach huts: a summary so far...

Now, the Town Councils of East Devon are responding - and no uncertain terms:

SEATON: Town council backs beach hut tenants

18th June 2015 by Anders Larsson anders@tindlenews.co.uk

Angry Seaton town councillors have demand that East Devon District Council (EDDC) suspends its ongoing beach hut reform process.

Seaton Town Council will also hold its own consultation to build a case, and liaise with other affected towns to try and form a united front.

As reported last week, EDDC wants to rip up current deals and auction five-year beach hut leases on the open market instead.

Rolling contracts

Beach huts are currently let on a rolling contract which means tenants automatically get to rent them every year until they no longer wish to do so.

The auction proposal has been met with passionate opposition; one argument against it being that it would price out locals and open the market up for more affluent people from ourside the area.

Several beach hut tenants attended Seaton Town Council on Monday, June 8th, demanding support from councillors.

That is precisely what they got.

Deputy Mayor Peter Burrows said about the proposal: “It is ill conceived and totally unworkable.

“I can understand why the proposals came out after the election. I suggest we tell EDDC we are totally opposed to it.”

Councillor Marcus Hartnell complained the town council had received no reply from EDDC when enquiring about taking over the beach huts, and added: “I would propose we hold a public consultation before getting our response in.

Councillor Dawn Squire suggested the town council liaises with other affected towns to form “a united front”.

Councillor Hartnell added: “If we just hold a listening event, I think that is enough. We could put together a strong document because we have done our own research.

“It is not right what they are proposing and we need to say that.”


EDDC is currently consulting with beach hut tenants, but the consultation has been heavily criticised for not offering a status quo option.

Seaton Town Council agreed to hold its own consultation exercise, of which details will be announced in due course.

It was also agreed to liaise with other affected towns, and demand that EDDC suspends the beach hut reform process.

The EDDC consultation will conclude on July 13th, after which the results will be analysed.

SEATON: Town council backs beach hut tenants - View from Sidmouth

Uproar over Exmouth beach huts: East Devon District Council slammed over "auction" plan

By Exeter Express and Echo | Posted: June 17, 2015

Exmouth beach huts are under threat of being auctioned off to the highest bidder say councillors

The public gallery was packed for a debate at Exmouth Town Council over how beach huts should be let out this week. A consultation proposal had been received from East Devon District Council (EDDC) to auction the beach huts off to the highest bidder instead of the current system of allowing tenants to continue renting the huts year by year.

Cllr Mark Williams proposed a motion that the town council reject the proposal by EDDC that the beach huts be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

He said: “The proposal was procedurally incorrect, uncosted, reputationally damaging, harmful to the interests of Exmouth as a premier centre for tourism. Exmouth Town Council requests an urgent meeting with the portfolio holder to discuss a way forward.”

He said the proposal was incorrect as at a previous cabinet meeting in January the minutes show a different proposal. He said the minutes read: “The future of the beach huts should be considered as part of the wider Exmouth regeneration programme to ensure a coherent approach.”

The Exmouth councillor said the consultation was quite general and should have come to the town council for discussion. He also said the finances of the scheme had not been thought through while the costs of officer time were highly speculative. Beach huts added to the town’s attraction and add pleasure and enjoyment and should not be auctioned off to the well-off. He felt the town council should be in charge of the huts and the huts could be leased for a period of time to allow others to take them on although there was no waiting list.

Cllr Steve Gazzard said a large hotel could potentially buy all the beach huts for their guests if EDDC’s plans were put into action. Cllr Pauline Stott said the town shouldn’t be clubbed together with the other towns as Exmouth don’t incur costs as they don’t have to be taken down in the winter and the town council should take charge of the huts and put up more of them.

Cllr Williams motion was passed with a large majority which was received by a round of applause from the public gallery.

Meanwhile a Facebook site had been set up called Save East Devon Beach Huts with several hundred members. Claire Branfield of the group said one Seaton resident, whose mother is blind and father severely disabled, who have had a hut for 30 years are distraught at having to give it up. She told the Express and Echo: “I also heard this morning, through a friend, of a Budleigh Salterton resident, a military man suffering from severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, who has a beach hut where he spends most of his days. His carer says that he is totally distraught at the prospect of losing his hut, as he cannot afford any rise in the rent.”

EDDC said in reply: “We think it is only fair that everyone – from East Devon residents to visitors – should have the opportunity to hire a beach hut, site or chalet. This consultation is a great opportunity for people to give us their views on the service they would like to receive from us. It’s time that this special service, which we offer, becomes a viable self-supporting asset and not a burden of luxury. We strongly believe that these changes are for the better.”

“We have a responsibility to make sure that public money is spent in the best way possible. If we can collect more from this enterprise than it costs us to provide it, we can also improve our beach hut, chalet and beach hut site service. Any surplus funds would be re-invested in other council services.”

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Uproar over Exmouth beach huts: East Devon District Council slammed over "auction" plan | Exeter Express and Echo

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