A COUNCIL is forking out thousands of pounds to replace “inadequate” beach hut doors at Milford on Sea just two years after they were installed.

Nineteen deteriorated doors will be replaced at a cost of £22,000 – more than half of which will be covered by New Forest District Council.

A £2.3m project to build 119 new huts after the previous ones were wrecked by a storm in 2014 proved controversial after the council spent almost double its previous estimate on the scheme.

The extra expenditure, which was used to make improvements to the seafront, was described as a “stupid and wasteful” use of taxpayers’ money by Liberal Democrat district councillor David Harrison. At the time, he reported the council to external auditors, but they refused to investigate.

Colin Holdsworth, who represents Milford on the New Forest Beach Hut Owners’ Association committee, said beach hut owners were “discontented” the doors were already in need of replacement. They will be footing £2,000 worth of the total bill.

“For the 19 doors they have offered the owners concerned either a like-for-like replacement or an upgraded door, which is more resilient, at a cost of £115.

“The doors have been patently inadequate for the exposure to the elements, with the sea hurling pebbles at them. Seventy of them have deteriorated, but they probably all ought to be replaced. The huts need a door with a solid timber core, not the flax board that’s in the current ones.”

Mr Holdsworth added several beach hut owners had already been through the council’s complaints procedure, and one had contacted the ombudsman.

The work to replace the doors will start on Monday, June 3, and take two weeks to complete.

New Forest District Council said: “Some of the 119 beach hut doors from the project completed in 2017 at Milford have not performed as expected and so 19 are being replaced. The cost of the work to replace the doors is approximately £22,000. The contractor is paying a contribution of around £7,000 of this cost, hut owners are contributing £2,000 and NFDC are paying the rest from existing budgets.”

Cllr Malcolm Wade, environment spokesman for the Liberal Democrat group, accused the council of “financial incompetence” over the matter and said the beach huts were “a waste of public money” and “shouldn’t have been built in the first place” when cutbacks have been made in other areas.