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Beach hut owners wait for decision on rent hike

Committee backs residents’ plea

RENT HIKE: The final decision is due tonight
RENT HIKE: The final decision is due tonight

BEACH hut owners fighting Canterbury City Council’s proposals to raise their rents will find out tonight (Thursday) if they have been successful. The Herne Bay and Whitstable-based beach hut campaigners celebrated a minor victory after one council committee agreed with their plea for a less severe increase last week. The overview committee will pass on its recommendations to the members of the executive who will make the final decision tonight. Members of the overview committee threw out a suggestion by council officers to take part of the discussion behind closed doors away from press and public. A confidential report looking into the market rent of beach huts had prompted the suggestion. Councillors chose instead to make their recommendations without mentioning the contents of the report. Currently the rent for Herne Bay huts is £276 for residents, £416 for non-residents and £136 for pensioners who have owned their hut for more than 15 years. At Tankerton it is £368 for residents, £546 for non-residents and £172 with the long-term discount. The suggestions for market rent put forward by the council originally was £475 at Herne Bay, or £570 if subletting is permitted, and £650 at Tankerton, rising to £780 with subletting. Chairman of the Herne Bay Beach Hut Association Alan Ratford attended the meeting. He told councillors:

“We have presented an offer to the council. Our objective in this negotiation has been to achieve a fair level of rent. In the last weeks we have obtained a robust evaluation of the rental values and advice from a barrister. We have presented an offer carefully collated, we urge the members give it careful consideration.”

TALKS: Hut owners are fighting the proposed rent hike
TALKS: Hut owners are fighting the proposed rent hike

Councillor Phil Cartwright said:

“We have created a mess, it has gone on for 14 months. The owners have come up with a recommendation which is as close as we will get. I am happy with it, it is bringing us extra money and keeping the owners happy. They do more than pay the rent, they keep it tidy, they act as security guards. If it is keeping them happy and making more money, it seems like a good deal to me.”

Herne Bay Times, February 6th 2014

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