Wednesday, 1 July 2015

The East Devon beach hut story: very much in the news

Next Tuesday in Sidmouth, there will be a public meeting to consider the District Council's proposals for its beach huts:
Futures Forum: The future of East Devon's beach huts >> public meeting >>> Sidmouth Tuesday 7th July

The wider media has shown interest in the issue too: 

SIDMOUTH: Public meeting to be held on beach hut auction controversy

30th June 2015 by Jack Dixon jack@pemedia.co.uk

FURIOUS residents will have their say on proposals to auction off Sidmouth’s beach huts at a public meeting in the town.

A full house is expected at next week’s meeting, organised by the Vision Group for Sidmouth. The event will provide a platform for angry residents to voice their concerns before East Devon District Council’s public consultation closes in less than a fortnight’s time.

The council currently owns 24 beach huts at Jacob’s Ladder, which are hired out every year at a cost of £625 each. Under the current rules, individuals can renew their hire agreements each year, creating huge waiting lists for the sought-after huts.

Now EDDC is planning to auction off the facilities, with existing leases scrapped and new five-year hire agreements sold to the highest bidders. The plans have so far proved unpopular with current tenants, some of whom have hired out their huts for many years.

Organisers of the Save East Devon Beach Huts campaign, which is also fighting the proposals in Budleigh Salterton, Exmouth, Seaton and Beer, say they have been “overwhelmed” by the response from members of the public. Almost 500 people have joined the campaign’s Facebook group, many of whom are expected to air their concerns in public at next week’s meeting.

Campaigners argue it is unfair for longstanding tenants to be turfed out of their huts by those who can afford to pay a higher price. And some are concerned that the chalets will be snapped up by holiday home owners.

East Devon District Council says there are well over 300 people on its waiting list for huts across the area, and that putting them on the market is a way to open the facilities up to new tenants while generating money that can be reinvested in hut improvements or other council services.

Subject to planning permission, EDDC also says it will look to replace the ageing huts at Jacob’s Ladder with new and improved facilities designed for the location. It is considering adding a further ten huts between the end of the Esplanade and Chit Rocks to satisfy the “considerable demand” for beach facilities in Sidmouth.

The public meeting is being held in the Cellar Bar at Kennaway House on Tuesday, July 7th at 7.30pm. 

The beach huts consultation closes the following week on July 13th.

SIDMOUTH: Public meeting to be held on beach hut auction controversy - View from Sidmouth


1 JUL 2015

Spotlight last night featured East Devon beach hut owners up in arms about proposed changes that would see the agreements between hut renters and EDDC torn up in favour of an auction of five year leases of sites only which would go to the highest bidder. There would be no restriction on where new leaseholders would come from. ITV regional news featured this item last week too.

Meanwhile, in Budleigh Salterton:

Anger over beach hut bidding wars

29 June 2015 Sean Keywood

Disgruntled Budleigh Salterton beach huts owners and users this week. 

... in Seaton and Beer:

SEATON: Beach hut auction plan still on the cards

24th June 2015 by Kevin Fahey & Anders Larsson

SEATON: Beach hut auction plan still on the cards

THUMBS DOWN | Seaton beach hut tenants are not pleased with the proposal

SEATON: Beach hut auction plan still on the cards - View from Sidmouth

... and in Exmouth:

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


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