Beach hut owners have responded with delight that plans for controversial fee rises have been scrapped.
Peter Reeves from Hove said: “That is excellent news. It was ill-thought through in the first place. It needed to be properly consulted on.”
The proposal would have seen the transfer fee – cash the council collects from beach hut owners when it is sold – increase from £82 to three times the licence fee or 10 per cent of the sale price, so around £2,500.
A new contract also included a threat to remove beach huts and dispose of them if owners did not sign up to the tax rise.
Conservative councillor Robert Nemeth who fought the rise, said: “I was disgusted that the Labour Administration was threatening to crush the huts of owners who did not comply with their bullying approach. In standing up for what is right, we have been able to beat yet another assault on Hove – this time on its iconic family beach huts.”
“In painting such an inaccurate picture of beach hut owners as the oligarchs of the seafront, they lost the support of the general public who knew this situation to be entirely false. Beach hut owners are normal people who love spending time on the seafront with the family. A 10 per cent sales tax out-of-the-blue on any item is outrageous.”
A Labour group spokesperson said: “Sometimes we misjudge the impact of implementing a decision.
“That’s why we have decided, as a Labour administration, that instead of trying to push on with a decision about transfer fees that is proving more complex and difficult to deliver than expected, it is better to admit defeat and focus officers’ time more usefully elsewhere. We have made many tough decisions to keep the city working, but in this instance we have decided to drop this particular proposal.”
A council spokesperson said: “These proposals put forward at tourism, development and culture committee, were designed to modernise the agreement between the council and the owners and bring transfer fees in line with neighbouring authorities. Any revenue raised would have been spent on the management of the seafront.
“However, after listening carefully to the concerns raised by beach hut owners, and following committee, where councillors voted to defer the proposals for further consideration, it has now been decided to withdraw the proposal for new terms and conditions to apply to existing licences.”