‘Equality’s important’ over use of beach huts

Exmouth beach hut. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 5226-24-14SH To order your copy of this photograph g

Exmouth beach hut. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 5226-24-14SH To order your copy of this photograph go to www.exmouthjournal.co.uk and click on Photo Orders - Credit: Archant

Beach huts in each of East Devon’s coastal communities, including Exmouth, could all operate using different rules under a new regime being proposed.

The district council’s policy watchdog, the scrutiny committee, last week took a close look at proposals to shake up the way East Devon’s beach huts are run.

Earlier this year, East Devon District Council (EDDC) wanted to put the district’s beach huts at Exmouth, Budleigh Salterton, Sidmouth, Seaton East, Seaton West and Beer up for auction.

In Exmouth, the Foxholes chalets alone will cost around £80,000 over 10 years to maintain, and, in the future, all the huts will need to pay for themslves.

But initial suggestions for a lease-auction led to concerns that only the well-off would be able to afford to rent a beach hut, with the rest snapped up by hotels for use by their customers.

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EDDC bosses went back to the drawing board and drew up new proposals, which were scrutinised by the commitee.

Suggestions include a ‘right to buy’ scheme, tenants paying their own non-domestic rates, an increase in rent to a ‘market’ rate and the huts being run by town and parish councils.

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The chairman of the committee, Councillor Roger Giles, said: “It is crucial that the public’s concerns are heard.

“Members were especially concerned that the different areas where the beach huts are situated should be addressed separately.

“They are all individual sites with different requirements and cannot be just lumped together.

“We are also keen to see that equality concerns are addressed.

“For elderly or disabled people on limited incomes, the cost of installing and dismantling beach huts each season could have a significant impact on them and we do not want to see anybody disadvantaged.”

Councillor Philip Skinner, EDDC’s economy portfolio holder, said: “It a delicate balance that we must strive to achieve between ensuring that we don’t price people out and creating best value from our assets – particularly in view of the cutbacks we are facing.”

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