Man bemoans option to let non-residents rent beach hut spaces on Budleigh seafront
PUBLISHED: 15:23 12 August 2019 | UPDATED: 08:25 20 August 2019
A man who is among hundreds on a waiting list to own a prized beach hut space in Budleigh said it is unfair that non-residents can have a spot.
Matt Maslen, who has lived in the town since he was a baby, said he is around 250th in line for the chance to rent a space on the seafront from East Devon District Council (EDDC).
The waiting list has more than 1,400 people on it.
EDDC, which leases the spaces, said there is an eight to ten year wait to get the chance to own a spot, which has no electricity and is supplied water via a communal tap.
Mr Maslen said he expects a wait of up to 20 years before his chance comes.
The Journal previously revealed that of the 130 beach hut space tenants in Budleigh, only 92 have an EX9 postcode, meaning 38 people are outside of the town and the Otter Valley.
Mr Maslen said: "Owning a beach hut is a perk of living in Budleigh.
"The thing that upsets me is most is you go down there (Budleigh Salterton beach) on a sunny day and only a handful of the beach huts are being in use.
"I think a lot of people in Budleigh will feel the same - I do not live far from the beach and it would be wonderful a family to have a beach hut and use it in the summer.
"It is sad to see, in the middle of summer, that they are not in use."
Mr Maslen believes that some beach hut space tenants could live as far afield as Scotland, meaning they only use the huts on a holiday in Devon. Of the 1,469 on the beach hut space waiting list in Budleigh, 608 people on the list have an EX9 postcode.
EDDC's leader Ben Ingham said: "I believe that beach huts are an East Devon asset and priority should be available to any East Devon resident and not exclusive to residents living in the town where the beach hut are located.
"I've always understood that legally we would struggle to defend a local beach huts for local people policy.
"Because restricting access, as suggested by Mr Maslen, to an EX9 postcode would discriminate against someone with, for example, an EX10 postcode, who lives five miles from Budleigh, who works in the district, and who uses Budleigh as their local centre for shopping, healthcare, etc.
"At the very least you'd have to have an East Devon postcode policy and as we have lots of second home owners who can register to vote for local elections, and who pay council tax for their second home, you can clearly see there are substantial practical issues in what he is suggesting.
"Budleigh's beach hut tenants have already been made aware that beach huts are an asset for the whole of East Devon and that EDDC has a duty to maximise its assets for the benefit of all the residents of East Devon. This policy applies to all East Devon-owned beach huts."