‘No’ to beach hut auction plans

Sidmouth's beach huts. Ref shs 0839-03-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife

Sidmouth's beach huts. Ref shs 0839-03-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

The future of Sidmouth’s 24 beach huts was up for discussion at a meeting hosted by a Sid Valley think tank this week.

Ideas pitched to ensure the continued operation of the service included renting the huts to tourists during the peak summer season and a more flexible system that would allow groups of friends to share a lease.

Tuesday’s meeting gave residents, councillors and current leaseholders the chance to express their views on East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) proposals - which would see existing contracts terminated and then auctioned off.

In addition, the existing huts at Jacob’s Ladder could be upgraded and 10 new huts could be installed along the Millennium Walkway.

The authority says it needs to find savings in light of government funding cuts - and the new system would help recover its costs.

More than 40 people gathered at Kennaway House for the meeting organised by the Vision Group for Sidmouth’s Futures Forum.

And although a range of views were expressed, there was agreement that auctioning the leases was a bad idea that could result in the huts sitting empty for weeks at a time, if they are snapped up by wealthy bidders from out of the area.

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Other issues raised by the meeting included:

? Would the auction process exclude lower-income families?

? Would new locker facilities on the seafront help ease the demand for beach huts?

? What would stop hotels buying up the leases and keeping them for guests?

? How would any new huts tie in with the town’s beach management plan?

EDDC will make a decision on the future of the huts after considering responses received from across the district.

Give us your views. Email sidmouth.letters@archant.co.uk

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