The increase in council charges for beach huts is undoubtedly high and something to question. But I’d like to question the campaigners who use the “too tough on pensioners” argument. Now, I’m motivated by social justice and caring for the most vulnerable in our society. So, I’d question if beach huts are really in a group of essentials for pensioners that I would put winter fuel payments within?
It’s obvious that most pensioners that own a beach hut are wealthy individuals or at least not living on the breadline, and to subsidise them by not asking for a full payment of fees would not be a good use of public money. However, some beach huts have been in families a long time before the ridiculous inflation in their prices over the past 15 years. So some lower income families may well own beach huts.
Therefore, I would have more sympathy on this campaign, if the associations asked for a reduction in the fees for pensioners on the proviso that they were kept in the family. And that they advocated for their members to pay back the subsidy, plus interest, at the point of any future sale of their beach hut. Thus allowing for these funds to be then directed to services for the most vulnerable people in Whitstable.
Jonathan Dearth, Whitstable
Herne Bay Times, January 16th 2014