BEACH hut renters and owners have hit out at the council for using them as a “cash cow” following a price hike of more than 10 per cent. 

BCP Council wrote to beach hut groups saying that rental costs will go up by 13 per cent in April. 

It means that standard rent will rise from around £1,650 to £1,900 this year.  

As part of a five-year plan agreed upon in 2023, fees would rise by 44 per cent: 16 per cent in the first year, 13 per cent in the second (this year) and five per cent for the remaining three years. 

Bob Lister, chairman of the Poole Beach Hut Association, said the council is treating hut-users as “cash cows”. 

Bournemouth Echo: BCP Council leader Cllr Drew Mellor, inset, has confirmed the beach hut sale plan is off

He said: “I have had, as chair, six phone calls so far about this because people are angry and many are thinking of giving up their huts. 

“The council was asked to write to people on a waiting list, but when people and families are invited down to look they see how much they are and decided not to go ahead with it. 

“I’m told 96 people gave up their hut last year, allegedly, because I think it’s more. But I think we’re looking at 130 people giving up their huts this year. 

“You wouldn’t mind as much if the promenade was being cleared of sand and the toilets were being cleaned.” 

He said there was a “deterioration of services while the costs are rising”.  

Bournemouth Echo: Bob Lister, chairman of Poole Beach Huts AssociationBob Lister, chairman of Poole Beach Huts Association (Image: Daily Echo)

Since he took on his hut around 10 years ago, he said prices have gone up from £900 a year to £3,300. 

Ann Gerrard, chair of the Bournemouth Beach Hut Association, added that groups contested “very hard” in December 2022 to keep prices down. 

She said: “People want to keep their huts because it is nigh-on impossible to get them now. Lots of people hut share but a lot also keep them to rent out to other people.  

“The result of that is a lot are left empty for part of the year. 

“Pre-Covid we had many meetings with the council and we used to be able to battle it out and reach an agreement, but not anymore. 

“I’m very disappointed we are in a position where we can’t fight for a plan anymore. We came up with lots of ideas and contested strategically, but it didn’t work out.” 

She added there was a misconception that those who own beach huts have lots of money or can afford to pay for them. 

“That’s not always the case,” Ann added. 

BCP Council previously said the “harmonisation” of the pricing would make £ 4.4m in “much-needed” investment to go towards the beach huts and their services. 

Cllr Millie Earl, deputy leader of BCP Council, said: “In line with work to harmonise services across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, the council introduced a new simplified five-year pricing strategy for beach huts in April 2023.

“Prior to, this, there was a substantial difference in beach hut pricing which needed addressing to ensure fairness across the three towns. The council also recognised that these plans needed to be introduced over time to reduce the immediate impact and give people the opportunity to plan ahead. 

“The additional income raised has enabled us to deliver further investment into our beach huts and associated services, including upgrading public toilet facilities along the seafront, whilst also helping to support a wider range of statutory council services.”