Beach hut owners hit with fee increase after storms
PUBLISHED: 10:23 24 February 2014 | UPDATED: 10:24 24 February 2014
The owners of a Budleigh beach hut thrown out of position by recent storms say district bosses have added insult to injury, after writing to them a week later about increasing their rental fees.
Roger and Rosemary Boud own a hut at the Steamer Steps end of the beach, where huts were battered by waves and winds.
This is the first year huts have been allowed on the beach all year round, after East Devon District Council changed the rules, with an associated hike in fees.
Now, with their hut, which uses a site rented from the council, unusable, the Bouds have received notice of a further fee increase from April.
The district council insists the letters advising of the fee increase were sent out before the most serious storms – although the Boud’s letter is dated February 13 – and says it will look to move huts back into position and discuss compensation.
Rosemary said: “Beach hut owners have unbelievably received a letter from EDDC dated February 13, 2014, which states that ‘following a review’ they are putting the annual rent up by £10.88.
“More significantly, there was no mention of the storms, no mention of any remedial action or assistance, and no mention of any rent rebate due to the site being unfit for use.”
Rosemary and Roger admitted they now regret leaving their hut on the site rather than removing it as they did previously, and said that as pensioners they would not be able to move it back into position.
An EDDC spokesman said: “We have not been contacted by the Bouds with a request to take any action. Theirs is a privately owned hut and it is the responsibility of the owner to decide whether to dismantle it for the winter or to leave it in place.
“Technically it is also the responsibility of the owners to move the hut back into its correct position but, since our staff will be on site moving other huts, we will endeavour to move this one at the same time. The site of the hut has not been damaged so there is no reason in this case for a rebate on the site rental.
“So far as the letter advising of a rent rise is concerned, these letters were sent to tenants and lessees before the more severe storms that did the serious damage to huts.
“The question of compensation for tenants of council-owned huts will be discussed later this week and we will contact affected tenants as soon as we can.
“We have not been able to address this issue any sooner because we have been preoccupied with real-time response to the extensive storm damage across the district.”