Town council unhappy at beach hut decision
09:52 04 March 2013
The Mayor of Budleigh has criticised district bosses as “unprofessional” for bringing in new beach hut charges without informing the town council.
Beach huts on Budleigh beach, which previously were only rented in the summer months, will now be rented all year round.
The mayor, Councillor Courtney Richards, told town councillors this week that he was annoyed at the lack of consultation from East Devon District Council about the change, as apart from an informal mention by town and district councillor Tom Wright that the plan was being considered, they only found out a decision had been made through EDDC newsletter The Knowledge.
However, Cllr Wright defended the authority, saying that The Knowledge was the usual way town councils were kept informed.
Cllr Richards said: “I don’t think The Knowledge is the way EDDC should communicate its decisions to councils. I expect there to be some sort of communication from the council at East Devon to the council at Budleigh Salterton.
“I consider it to be completely unprofessional.”
Cllr Richards said he was “particularly galled” because in a meeting with EDDC’s chief executive two years ago, it had been agreed that the town council would be kept informed of Budleigh matters.
Cllr Wright said: “On October 28, I did inform this council that this was going to happen. All councils were notified via The Knowledge on January 4 and January 11.
“The issue for January 4 clearly states price increases for beach huts and beach hut sites.”
Currently, council owned beach huts and sites are available between April 1 and September 30, with private beach huts allowed until October 31.
Under the new scheme, huts will be leased for 12 months and can be left there all year round, worrying some councillors.
Councillor Alan Jones said: “It’s well known the town don’t want beach huts in winter.
From Lime Kiln car park to the Longboat, you walk through a tunnel of beach huts. People say they like to come in the winter and look out over the sea.”
Cllr Wright said he sympathised with Cllr Jones’ concerns, but he believed EDDC had been persuaded by the chance to increase its income from the huts from just over £40,000 a year to just over £60,000.
He said: “I walk there every evening, and to have it without the ‘tunnel’ is wonderful as far as I’m concerned, but in these straightened economic times [EDDC] couldn’t pass up the opportunity to raise £20,000.”
Cllr Richards received councillors’ support for the council writing a strong letter to EDDC about the way the decision had been made.
He said: “This particular horse has bolted. It’s EDDC’s beach and they have ridden roughshod over what we wanted again.”