December 12 2013 Latest news:
BY RICHARD CORNWELL, Felixstowe editor
Thursday, January 10, 2013
SEASIDE chalet tenant are furious today after being told they face a massive hike in the cost of their seaside retreats – with rents set to go up 20 per cent.
The rise is nearly eight times the rate of inflation.
Beach hut owners at Felixstowe also face a 12pc rise in rents this year as Suffolk Coastal seeks to increase its income as much as it can.
The council is faced with cuts in government grant and wants to keep its tax as low as possible, but those enjoying a day at the seaside are set to foot the bill and there are fears people could turn away from the town, dealing a blow to the tourist trade.
Tenants pay up to £1,200 per year to rent the concrete chalets, plus rates – and will now see bills go up by up to £240. Beach hut owners pay on average about £300 and will pay around £36 more.
Bath Tap chalet tenant James Marston, of Felixstowe, said: “It is an outrage – we are going to get nothing extra at all for this money. In fact, the council is going to stop doing the gardens in front of the chalets.
“I think it is unjustified, unacceptable and unaffordable.”
Roy Gray, of Walton, who has a chalet off Bath Hill, said: “I think it is disgraceful and disproportionate and cannot be justified. A lot of older people use those chalets and for them that is their holiday. Now they may be forced to give up the one pleasure they have.
“There may be a waiting list at present but I think these increases will put people off applying in future.
“The chalets require redecorating outside and many have water marks, leaks in ceilings and doors, and could do with painting.”
Felixstowe councillor Margaret Morris said the rises were disgraceful.
“The original proposition was a ten pc increase, which people would have felt was too high, and then the cabinet increased it to 20pc. Apparently every one pc rise brings £4,000 extra income. It is appalling,” she said.
Another opponent of the rises, councillor Kimberley Williams said: “Charges have been substantially increased when all councillors should be doing all that we can to encourage tourism, rather than increasing costs for those that still bother to visit Felixstowe, despite its diminishing appeal with boarded-up shops and a defunct theatre.”
A Suffolk Coastal spokesman said: “We still currently have a huge waiting list of over five years for chalets.
“We have reviewed all charges across all our services and comparatively our charges for beach huts and chalets are still very good value for money, even with the planned increase that will bring them in line with that charged by other councils.
“In these tough financial times we do need to ensure we are generating enough income for the free services we run, such as our public toilets and rubbish collection and street cleansing that visitors to our tourist attractions such as Felixstowe are receiving.”
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