Decision on beach hut fee increase is postponed

Hove beach huts SUS-180622-092151001
Hove beach huts SUS-180622-092151001

Beach hut owners could face huge administration charges if they choose to sell up after a contract was drawn up by Brighton and Hove City Council

But at a meeting of the tourism, development and culture committee last night (June 21), a decision on the matter was deferred.

The move would see a new contract for the city’s 459 beach hut owners include a fee of three times the £400 annual licence fee or ten per cent of the sale price applied when the property is sold. The average beach hut sells for £25,000.

What’s more, the contract says if the new terms and conditions are not agreed, the licence could be ‘terminated’ with the beach hut removed.

Peter Reeves from Hove, who has owned a beach hut for 12 years, said: “I think it is outrageous and exploitative. We’re talking about a small administrative task that should cost a few pounds.

“It’s being pushed through like a third world country dictatorship, without an attempt to consult on it. The least they should do is delay it.”

Conservative councillor Robert Nemeth said: “I am disgusted at the Labour administration’s latest attack on Hove which will see beach hut owners threatened with revenge eviction if they don’t sign up to a new contract that contains a 3,000 per cent increase in the beach hut sales tax. We are seeing beach hut owners told to remove their huts if they don’t sign on the dotted line.

“This jealousy tax relies on Labour’s back story of beach hut owners being the super-wealthy when, in reality, they are just normal people enjoying the seafront with their families.”

Cllr Alan Robins, chair of the tourism, development and culture committee, said: “This is an opportunity to modernise the agreement between the council and beach hut owners.

“The value of a beach hut on the seafront has risen significantly in recent years, well above inflation, and these changes will bring Brighton and Hove in line with a number of neighbouring authorities.”

At least night’s meeting the Conservatives tabled a motion to postpone the decision on the licences, with was supported by the Greens.

It has now been deferred to the next meeting of the tourism, development and culture committee on September 27.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Nemeth said “I’m delighted that fellow committee members agreed with me that beach hut owners hadn’t been consulted and that the matter should be deferred so that consultation can take place. Threatening beach hut owners with eviction is plain wrong – especially when the council was in the wrong all along.”