Herne Bay Times Report

Posted on 8th December, 2012

By Emma Cooney       Published in Herne Bay Times 6th December 2012

 

CANTERBURY City Council is threatening to limit beach hut owners to a 30 year lease.

The news drew a shocked response from owners this week.

STORM BREWING?  Beach huts in Herne Bay Picture by Julia Geeves

 

Derick Tyrrell of Savernake Drive, Broomfield, paid £8,000 for his hut three years ago.He said: "I didn't buy my hut to be told in 30 years I have to get off the beach. I should be able to pass it on to whoever I want. It could be a legacy to pass on to my children and their children."

 

Alan Ratford, chairman of Herne Bay Beach Hut Owners Association, said opposition is unanimous.

He added: "At the moment I can sell my hut without restriction. If there is a 30-year cap, then obviously the value of the hut decreases. It is not a problem for today, but it will be tomorrow.

 

"We cooperate very well with the council but this is a major stumbling block."

 

The news leaked out during a meeting of the neighbouring Tankerton Bay Beach Hut Owners Association annual meeting. It is estimated it could affect 300 hut owners locally.  The city council wants to force beach hut owners to move out after a maximum of 30 years. At the moment leases can he renewed every year.

 

Under new proposals the lease would be renewed every six years for a maximum of 30 years. After that, owners would have to remove their huts from the beach or sell them. The council also wants to levy a £1,300 fee if the huts are sold.

 

In a separate row, the council has angered boat owners, with plans to charge them £100 a year to leave their vessels on the beach. Warning notices have been attached to boats. The notices say: "Following a recent review, Canterbury City Council is consulting on introducing a charge for various activities and services provided for Foreshore Services. The proposed fee of £100 plus VAT would come into effect as of April."   The notice adds that "feedback is welcome".

Boat owner Pete Revell, from Charles Street, said: "Is the council going to start charging people to sit on the beach next?  "What are these services? Are they going to polish the boats? Or is it for ensuring the boats are safe with regular patrols along the seafront to make sure they are all ok? If so, it sounds like a protection racket which, I think, is illegal."

 

Mr Revell is a member of Heron Angling Club, which has 13 boats used by fishermen and photographers.

He said: "Some of the smaller row boats aren't even worth £100, but they are an important part of the seafront. People coming to the seaside want to see beach huts and boats."

 

City council spokesman Steve James said: "The council is engaging in confidential conversations with beach hut owners.  "The finite lease is merely speculation. No conclusions have been reached.

 

"He did not comment on the boat notices.

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