4. Beach huts consultation feedback
At the beginning of the summer we wrote to everyone in regards to a beach hut consultation to decide the future of how we rent out the beach huts going forward. We have analysed the data collected and taken into consideration all of the views and opinions given.
What the changes will be
We currently rent out more than 480 beach huts, beach hut sites and beach chalets at five different beaches. There will be three main changes to this service:
- Following consultation, we increased the rental charges for beach huts, beach hut sites and chalets for 2016/2017 and 2017/2018.
In the consultation you told us that you were strongly against the idea of establishing the full market rent by terminating all leases and putting the beach huts, beach hut sites and chalets up for auction.
We have listened carefully to what you have told us and your views are very helpful for us to shape the future of the service. However, for the reasons explained below the alternative to the proposals is that charges are simply increased instead. This was a very common suggestion from those of you who took the time to complete the questionnaire.
- Hirers of all beach huts, beach huts sites and beach chalets are now charged a fee in addition to their rental charge to cover their national non-domestic rates. Previously this was included as part of the hire charge. This will vary from year to year but in 2014/ 2015 was between £21 and £90 for a year.
- Previously, there was a mixture of council provided huts and sites for beach hut provision at both Budleigh Salterton and Seaton. We now don't provide any huts at Budleigh Salterton and Seaton. Instead, it's the responsibility of the hirer to provide and look after their own huts. The existing tenant of a beach hut rental which is changing to site only rental had the opportunity to buy the hut that had been provided by EDDC.
Everyone who had a beach hut, beach hut site or beach chalet received a letter confirming these changes and letting them know what the new amount they will have to pay will be. We also sent out a press release to let other people know what the changes will now be.
Why are we making these changes?
There are three key reasons for these changes:
- Beach huts, beach hut sites and beach chalets are really popular and there are currently more than 700 people on waiting lists to rent one. All of the waiting lists have been closed for many years, apart from Exmouth, so people who would like a beach hut, beach hut site or chalet outside of Exmouth are unable to. Once someone has a beach hut, site or chalet they do tend to hold onto them for a long time.
- At the same time, we want to encourage people who have beach huts, sites and chalets to value them more and make more use of them or let others have the opportunity to rent one. This was a clear issue that people expressed in the Beach Huts Service Consultation that was sent out to you in May 2015.
- The funding that we receive from Government to run all our services continues to reduce and so we need to find better, more commercial ways to use the assets that we have. Given that this service is greatly valued by our residents and visitors alike we want to make it possible and financially viable for us to continue to provide beach huts, sites and chalets. Next year we will be consulting town and parish councils about the future of this service.
Find out more information on the future of the proposals.