Beach huts sell-off anger

FAMILIES who have rented beach huts on Felixstowe seafront are today angry at council moves to sell off the wooden chalets.Some have rented the huts for the summer season for more than 20 years and become regular visitors to the resort as a result.

FAMILIES who have rented beach huts on Felixstowe seafront are today angry at council moves to sell off the wooden chalets.

Some have rented the huts for the summer season for more than 20 years and become regular visitors to the resort as a result.

But Suffolk Coastal - which kept a handful of the chalets to rent on a daily basis to daytrippers and holidaymakers - said it needed to find ways of saving money to keep the council tax as low as possible and so the huts had to go.

Ian Parsons, of Ipswich, whose family has rented one of the 17 huts for the past two decades, was astonished the chalets would be sold by auction.

"People are fearful that they will not be able to secure the huts for use in the future. Many of the people are now pensioners who feel they may not be able to afford to purchase 'their hut'," he said.

"They are also fearful of an auction process, in which the council is seeking to take advantage of their desire to keep their lifestyle.

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"It is the people that have most to lose that are likely to be keenest to secure the huts and they are often the people who can least afford to bid.

"Some are almost resigned to losing out, some feel unable to bid in a blind auction process and most are extremely worried.

"My in-laws and many of their long term friends now face being without their 'summer holiday home', something they look forward to through the winter months. Some of these people spend the majority of their days at these huts. They are not just the 'sunny weekenders'.

They spend money consistently at the local shops, ice-cream huts, fish & chip shops, newsagents, pubs, and markets during this time."

Mr Parsons said once people had paid for their huts, they would then be expected to pay an annual site licence - almost as much as the current rent.

So the council will still make as much each year, plus the cash from the sell-off, without maintaining the chalets.

Huts on Felixstowe seafront vary wildly in price, some selling for a few hundreds pounds but others selling for a few thousand.

The council is selling 16 huts and keeping one to let on a daily basis.

Doreen Savage, chairman of the resort regeneration group, said the council was faced with finding £1 million in savings and had to look at all services to see if they could be delivered differently or more efficiently.

It was possible there would still be huts available to rent as the council was looking to act as an agency for any of the resort's 1,000 hut owners wanting to rent out their huts. The council would then arrange rentals for a commission fee.

n What do you think of the hut sell-off - are you losing your hut? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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