More than 500 protesters join march against proposed Felixstowe beach hut rent rises
- Credit: Harman Hopkins (H3 Photography)
“It sends a clear message that we are not going to go down without a fight.”
That is how a leading campaigner against the proposed rent rises for beach huts in Felixstowe has described a march in the town today, which attracted more than 500 protesters.
Jo Woodward, chairwoman of the Felixstowe Beach Hut and Chalet Association, said: “It was an incredible turnout, we were all amazed.
“There were lots of people singing, we had a chant going.
“It was a really good atmosphere and it was done in a jovial fashion, we are not aggressive.
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“It’s our protest to Suffolk Coastal District Council (SCDC) to say we want our voices to be heard.”
SCDC is reviewing its beach hut service in the face of Government cutbacks.
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The authority is suggesting a 10% annual rent rise for the next eight years, the introduction of 10-year leases and in future a £7,000 up-front premium to take on a lease.
Mrs Woodward said these changes would be “unfair” and “unrealistic”.
Since the council announced the proposed price hike, Mrs Woodward said membership of the Felixstowe Beach Hut and Chalet Association had almost doubled.
She added: “Most people who own these huts have had them for well over 11 years, many have been in families for generations and passed down.
“They are not seen as capital assets or assets to invest in, they are people’s wooden sheds by the sea that local families use.”
Campaigners have adopted the slogan: “Felixstowe beach huts are not cash cows”, with some people dressing up as the black and white animal during today’s rally.
In 2017 the town’s beach hut rates went up by 3.25%.
SCDC has just held a public consultation about the reform, but has not yet published the results.
TJ Haworth-Culf, cabinet member for leisure, said: “The beach hut service is just one of many being reviewed by the council.
“As an organisation, we are faced with on-going reduction in support from central Government and are seeking to protect the local council taxpayer, by making sure we maximise the contribution we get from our publicly owned assets and services we offer.
“At this stage, no decisions have been taken on how the beach hut service will be managed, or what charges will be levied, in the future.”