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Bournemouth beach hut owners could see rent hike of 10%
BEACH hut owners in Bournemouth are likely to see their rents increased by an inflation-busting 10 per cent next year.
Bournemouth council said it has to increase prices to protect frontline services at a time when its government grant is being squeezed.
But hut owners say the proposed rent hike is unfair and claim they are seen as an easy target because there is a waiting list of people wanting to own a beach hut.
The Bournemouth Beach Hut Association is urging hut owners to lobby their local councillors over the issue. “We cannot go back to the bad old days of inflation-busting increases,” it said.
“We all need to oppose this as strongly as we can. We don’t accept that we should be priced off the prom as there is a long waiting list of people apparently eager to have our sites.”
Bournemouth council’s last run-in with hut owners came in 2009 when, for the first time, hut owners were billed separately for the “rates” element of their bill by the Valuation Office Agency.
Poole and Christchurch councils reduced bills by the sum they had previously paid to the government on hut owners’ behalf but Bournemouth chose not to.
Following a high-profile row with hut owners, the council then froze beach hut rents in 2011 and 2012 and increased them by 1.8 per cent in 2013.
Cllr Lawrence Williams, cabinet member for tourism, leisure and culture, said they were currently consulting with the Beach Hut Association about the proposed 10 per cent rise.
“This is not something we take lightly and do understand the difficult decisions beach hut tenants will have to make about the affordability of this leisure item for which demand remains high,” he said.
“However in these challenging economic times it is important that the council obtains good value for all local taxpayers from their assets and to continue to provide the essential services they expect. The council has therefore chosen to protect frontline services and increase the beach hut prices above inflation.”
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