More huts for popular beach

EXTRA beach huts are to be placed on a popular stretch of coast – but the area will no longer have an award-winning shore to attract visitors to use them.

EXTRA beach huts are to be placed on a popular stretch of coast – but the area will no longer have an award-winning shore to attract visitors to use them.

Scrapping the boat park at The Dip, Old Felixstowe, to fill it with wooden chalets will bring in £12,000 a year in rents to help keep the council tax low.

But the move has been attacked as bizarre as Suffolk Coastal council has axed its entry for the Seaside Award yellow flag, which the beach has proudly displayed for the past few years, as a cost-cutting measure.

The flag tells beach users the shore and water washing on to it are clean.

Councillor Mike Ninnmey said withdrawal of the flag status and loss of the boat park was a double whammy.

"I am not sure how much the boat park is used, and it is right to review these provisions from time to time, but it is a shame to lose it," he said.

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"My biggest concern though is that we then put 29 beach huts on the site but at the same time withdraw the yellow flag which is actually attracting people to use this part of Felixstowe's coast and has helped make it so popular.

"That seems ridiculous.

"The yellow flag gave an assurance the shore and sea was bacteria free and safe for people to swim in and use.

"Monitoring the sea is something we should be doing automatically as part of maintaining and protecting our environment."

Mr Ninnmey called for some cash from the hut site rents to be used to pay for the cost of the flag.

Councillor Harry Dangerfield added: "I think the situation is very bizarre. The council has worked extremely hard over the years to make sure the beach at The Dip meets all the criteria to win this award. We don't want to lose it now."

It costs £235 to apply for a flag and £76 a week for 22 weeks to sample the sea water during the season – £1,907.

Suffolk Coastal council leader Ray Herring said: "We have undertaken a comprehensive spending review to meet the £1.6 million of savings and increased income we need to keep the council tax down to under five per cent.

"The additional income from extra beach huts are already factored in to our calculation and therefore cannot simply be moved across.

"We remain committed to the Blue Flag Award, the European standard and the most important measure for tourism when promoting the district as a whole.

"We feel the Rural Seaside Award scheme has more of a local value and is an initiative which the relevant coastal town and parish councils can comfortably undertake themselves."

n Should beach hut rents pay for the entry for a yellow flag? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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