Wednesday, 4 May 2016

East Devon beach huts: "If they are losing 26 per cent, and next year want another 50 per cent rent increase, it only goes to show it was a very bad decision in the first place."

The District Council's decisions on its beach huts have been open to much questioning:
Futures Forum: East Devon beach huts: scrutinising how decisions are made

Decisions which have generally been very unpopular:
Futures Forum: Beach huts "should not be a cash cow for the benefit of the privileged few"

Much of it has been about 'asset managment':
Futures Forum: Transferring assets from the District Council >>> It would be easier for the village to give more to tourists and keep them in the area if the council had control of assets
Futures Forum: East Devon beach huts >>> and the District Council's 'Transformation Strategy'

And now the further questioning of councillors reveals how these assets are being managed.

This is from the front page of today's View from Sidmouth:

Nearly a quarter of beach huts left empty after price hikes

By Peter Hodges - May 3, 2016

SIDMOUTH'S beach huts currently lying empty following a hike in rents

EAST Devon District Council has announced a 24 per cent vacancy rate in beach huts across the district as tenants choose not to renew their leases.

Sidmouth has 24 huts along the Esplanade and EDDC announced that at the start of the season there were 11 vacancies. Four have been filled and seven are under offer, whilst 26 people have declined the offer. The seven remaining offers expired on Friday which EDDC say has exhausted the waiting list.

Last week, an EDDC spokesperson said they were looking into ways to fill the vacant huts.

The spokesperson said: “The number of beach hut tenants who have decided not to renew is 115 (out of a total of 445 across the whole of East Devon). This equates to a retention rate of 76 per cent.

“We are currently working through our remaining waiting lists, which have been re-opened for the first time in many years, to try and re-let the remaining vacant beach hut sites.

“If we exhaust this and still have vacant beach hut sites we will advertise them. If, at the end of the year, we reach a position where we still have a high degree of vacant huts, a review of our charges will be undertaken. We will carry out consultation with town and parish councils progressively throughout this year.”

Sidmouth beach huts were available to rent for around £520 a year in 2015, but this year has seen the prices rise to more than £760 a year and prices will hit the £1,000 mark in 2017.

District Councillor Peter Burrows raised the beach hut issue at a district council cabinet meeting last month and had asked for the take-up rate.

He said: “The answer is that [district-wide] 115 beach huts have been given up, which is 26 per cent. Because of that high number, if we are in this situation at the end of the year, I was told a review will be undertaken. I questioned that. We need a review during this year.

“If they are losing 26 per cent, and next year want another 50 per cent [rent increase], it only goes to show it was a very bad decision in the first place. It was a terrible decision and I shall continue fighting this.”

His fellow EDDC councillor, Marcus Hartnell, speaking on the similar situation in Seaton said: “Clearly there has been a lot of people waiting for a number of years in Seaton, and they are working through that list as part of the process.

“Certainly walking along the seafront, I wouldn’t say that we have a 25 per cent vacancy in Seaton, but that’s just me walking along the seafront making observations.”

A similar lack of uptake is also evident in Seaton and Beer. Beer has 54 sites and at the start of the season there were seven vacancies of whish three have been filled. There are four under offer which expired last week; 10 people from the waiting list have declined an offer.

There are 123 sites in Seaton and at the start of the season there were 22 vacancies. Five have been filled and 17 are under offer which expires today; 45 people have declined an offer for a beach hut site there.

Nearly a quarter of beach huts left empty after price hikes

These are the District Council's web pages:
Beach huts - East Devon

This is the comment from the EDW blog


5 MAY 2016

So, EDDC has a great idea. Squeeze beach hut site tenants until their pips squeak. Almost double their rents, increase them hugely again next year, stitch renters up so that many cannot reclaim the business rates charged (block rateable value for whole sites), shorten the season by a month and all under the guise of “long waiting lists” and ” only charging market rents” (one of the markets being Brighton).

What happens?

The yellow notices here in Sidmouth beg for tenants to come forward.

All sites now have between 10-25% plus vacant sites and no waiting lists.

Lost revenue, lost reputation and lost trust.

Well done Asset Management Group and its Chairman, Councillor Geoff Pook.

Beach huts – what is a stronger word than omnishambles? | East Devon Watch

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