Wednesday, 1 July 2015

East Devon's beach huts and the Asset Management Forum

At a cabinet meeting in January, proposals for the District Council's beach huts were debated.
The report which was presented to cabinet was in fact based on an earlier report given to the Asset Management Forum:

14. Asset Management – tenanted non-residential property review

Minute 147
The Deputy Chief Executive presented the report of the Principal Estates Surveyor in respect of a review of tenanted non-residential property undertaken as part of the Council’s Asset Management Plan. A report on beach huts and chalets based on this review (including the overall management and financial information and arrangements site by site) had been considered by the Asset Management Forum. The review process had been challenging due to the range of locations, structures, arrangements and pricing. The aim of the recommendations had been to address certain discrepancies including where the provision was actually a cost to the Council as well improving the provision overall and introducing an ongoing replacement programme. The recommendations reflected a more co-ordinated approach and a greater standardisation of arrangements across the district.
Discussion included:
  • Although it was appreciated that the beach hut provision should not be subsidised by the Council, new arrangements should not put long-standing tenants in difficulty – not everyone had the space or ability to store the huts over the winter period.
  • The Council was not charging enough for managing the huts – there should be a greater differential between site-only and maintenance/management of beach huts.
  • The short-term provision of beach huts should be retained as this was a valued service to tourists and visitors and provided useful local income streams to the Tourist Information Centres.
  • The service needed to operate more commercially.
  • A proposal for a rolling tendering process of 20% of huts and chalets per year was not supported. It was felt that tendering in 2016 would allow ample time for consultation and review of approach.
  • Consultation with current users was regarded as essential.
  • Developing a ‘sinking’ fund was a prudent approach to cover replacement costs.
  • The proposal was to improve the current arrangements in Sidmouth where provision was below standard.  Options would be considered when planning permission was in place.
  1. that a sinking fund of £19,000 per annum be established to ensure retained huts and chalets can be replaced at the end of their life;
  2.  that the Property & Estates Services team work up a detailed proposal and feasibility assessment to deliver a scheme at Jacobs Ladder for the provision of new, more permanent beach huts;
  3.  that an additional site on the beach at Sidmouth, between the end of the Esplanade and Chit rocks, be established for the provision of 10 sites for beach huts subject to planning permission and viability assessment;
  4. that the Seaton Searchlight Emplacement be marketed for sale and invitations invited on both a freehold and leasehold basis (interest already expressed was noted);
  5. that the future of the huts and chalets at Exmouth be considered (in consultation with the Town Council) as part of the wider Exmouth regeneration programme to ensure a coherent approach;
  6. that 5 year leases be tendered for the existing 56 sites at Beer and 93 sites at Budleigh Salterton to commence 1 April 2016 subject to consultation with current users;
  7. that all sites be included within StreetScene’s rolling condition survey programme of infrastructure assets;
  8. that all beach hut tenants be responsible for their own NNDR (National non domestic rates) payments, where applicable;
  9. that all site tenants commit to their beach hut/chalet conforming (within a realistic range) in respect of design, style and colour;
  10. that Beer concession sites be brought into line with open  market rents at renewal.
  11. that the following proposals be referred back to the Asset Management Forum for further consideration, with the Forum being made fully aware of the importance of undertaking consultation:
        a)    that at Seaton and Budleigh Salterton, from April 2016 the managed hut sites be offered on an open            market basis as a site-only package, and will include a one-off charge of £250 for the existing hut;
        b)    that alternative use options for the beach hut storage unit  at Budleigh Salterton be explored and                  reported back to the Council’s Asset Management Forum at a future date;
To progress recommendations of the Asset Management Forum’s review of the Council’s beach huts and chalets.

Cabinet minutes for 7 January 2015 - Asset Management – tenanted non-residential property review - East Devon

There has been some controversy around the body which first considered a report into these matters.

Here is the relevant page from the District Council:

Asset Management Plan

The Asset Management Plan (AMP) sets out the Council’s approach to the Strategic Management of its land and building assets. It is developed in consultation between the Senior Officers and Members of the Council that form the Asset Management Forum. The AMP seeks to ensure that assets are used in the most effective and efficient way to meet service and financial objectives.
Corporate Property Asset Management Plan 2014 - 2017 
Last updated 19 June 2015

Asset Management Plan - East Devon

The Forum does not keep any records of its own discussions, however:

Asset Management Forum minutes

P Freeman made this Freedom of Information request to East Devon District Council
The request was refused by East Devon District Council.

From: P Freeman

Dear East Devon District Council,

Can you please provide me with copies of (or web links to) the
agendas and minutes of the meetings of the Asset Management Forum
since 2011?

In the event that these are considered confidential, please state
explicitly the grounds for them being confidential.

Many thanks.

Yours faithfully,

P Freeman

From: P Freeman

Dear East Devon District Council,

Please note that this request has been submitted under both FoI and

Yours faithfully,

P Freeman

From: Kate Symington
East Devon District Council

Mr Freeman

Thank you for your request for information.

There are no minutes held for this meeting. The Asset Management Forum is not a decision-making body, its recommendations are presented to Cabinet and these reports (headed Asset Management) are generally presented under part A and are fully accessible to the public. Cabinet meeting agendas and minutes can be accessed here www.eastdevon.gov.uk

I hope this is helpful.

If you feel dissatisfied with the way we have responded to your request, please contact our Interim Monitoring Officer at [email address

You may also approach the Information Commissioner for advice at www.ico.org.uk


Mrs Kate Symington 
Information and Complaints Officer
East Devon District Council

01395 517417

show quoted sections
Asset Management Forum minutes - a Freedom of Information request to East Devon District Council - WhatDoTheyKnow

This has been noted in the context of the District Council's relocation plans:


The press release speaks only of something going out to tender – it does not say exactly what the tender was for and we will never know because the Asset Management Forum at EDDC has always met in secret and provides no agendas or minutes of its meetings for the public.
Councillor Halse’s comments seem to imply that EDDC is not going to get as much as it had wanted for Knowle. They have long said that the move will be “cost neutral” but that was when only Knowle and Manston Depot were mentioned. Is it still cost neutral when you add in the loss of the Heathpark site and the East Devon Business Centre? Again we will never know because the Relocation Working Party meetings are also held in secret and no agendas or minutes are produced.
We have a situation now where ALL decisions are now made in secret. Instead of information going to committees for discussion and decision they are being referred to creatively-named “Forums” and “Groups” so that the decision-making can all take place behind closed doors where even majority party councillors have no idea what is going on.
Let us hope that when the next council is convened it votes for a Committee system of decision-making rather than an Executive Board system which allows a very small number of people – hand-picked by the Leader – to take decisions on behalf of the majority.
“Honiton for Sale” part 2 – some questions but very little chance of answers | East Devon Watch
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: Honiton "up for sale"

This was referenced on the social media site Streetlife in the last couple of days:
Streetlife | Beach Huts proposal

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