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Felixstowe: Beach hut owners and chalet tenants pledge to fight future rent increases

PUBLISHED: 10:00 13 March 2013

Alan Sarfas and Barbara Grace with the work they have done to shorten their beach hut at The Dip, Felixstowe - cutting the depth from the back

Alan Sarfas and Barbara Grace with the work they have done to shorten their beach hut at The Dip, Felixstowe - cutting the depth from the back

Archant

BEACH hut owners and chalet tenants today reluctantly accepted they would have to bite the bullet and pay this year’s whopping rent rises – but vowed never again.

Hut given chop to cut rent bill

Hut owners Barbara Grace and Alan Sarfas have cut 18 inches off their hut to save £200 a year – and hope to encourage others to follow suit.

The couple have shortened their wooden hut at The Dip, Old Felixstowe, by reducing its depth.

Mr Sarfas said: “Hut rents are charged according to the size of the hut and if your hut is over the standard size, then you pay extra.

“Most people couldn’t understand how I was going to cut 18 inches off, but what I have done is to take the back off, shorten the depth and then put a new back on. The roof will then need to be cut back to where the back is now.

“This will save us about £200 a year, though this year we have paid out about £300 for materials, so we will not start making any real savings until next year.

“I think other people should do the same. There are a lot of the larger huts in our row and they could all save themselves some money with a little bit of work.”

Owners said they would fight tooth and nail against any future proposals for such steep increases, and demanded to know where the £342,000 profit from the holiday havens would be spent this year.

They are also planning a protest march through the town this Easter to show Suffolk Coastal how unhappy people are at the rent rises and other issues facing the seafront.

Meanwhile, one couple yesterday cut 18 inches off the size of their hut to save themselves £200 a year on their rent bill.

Hut owner Barbara Grace, a member of the hut association steering committee, said: “The council has got us by the short and curlies this year because we would be in breach of our licences if we refused to pay the extra 12% for huts and 20% for chalets.

“But we are fed up being a cash cow for Suffolk Coastal. We are making a stand and we will fight strenuously against any future above-inflation increases.”

A packed public meeting was told rent from chalets and huts would this year net Suffolk Coastal £456,000 and leave the council with £342,000 profit after £113,000 admin costs associated with the managing the seafront sites.

Meeting chairman Roy Gray said: “When we met council leader Ray Herring, cabinet member Geoff Holdcroft and council officers last week they could not justify the increase.

“All they would say was that it was market forces and rents had been compared with other councils.

“It would be good to know where this profit is being spent every year – no maintenance has been carried out on the chalets for six years, and we never see people mending footpaths or clearing up dog mess or litter.

“These are things we would expect to pay for in our council tax and have done anyway.”

Some hut owners at the meeting at the Felixstowe Trades and Labour Club wanted to refuse to pay the rent rises and pay only a rate of inflation increase.

However, the steering committee for the new beach hut and chalet association said this would put people in breach of their licences and could lead to them being revoked and people evicted from their sites.

The council said hut and chalet prices were still good value for money and the authority needed to generate enough income to ensure it could still provide free services such as public toilets, rubbish collection and street cleansing visitors to Felixstowe enjoyed.


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