Havant Borough Council leader promises review of '˜unfair' beach hut fees '˜in the next week'

'˜IF NOTHING happens, you will be hearing from us.'

Thursday, 17th May 2018, 7:00 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 8:32 am
Barbara Colson, fears she may have to sell her Eastoke beach hut because of rising charges Picture: Habibur Rahman

That’s the message ‘disappointed’ Hayling Island beach hut users have issued to the new leader of Havant Borough Council (HBC), Michael Wilson.

It comes after the Tory councillor yesterday vowed to carry out a review into rising annual fees faced by non-resident hut owners.

Currently, residents of Havant pay a £515 yearly fee to licence their plots, while owners from further afield must fork out more than twice as much, at £1,234.

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Barbara Colson, fears she may have to sell her Eastoke beach hut because of rising charges Picture: Habibur Rahman

But self-proclaimed ‘hutters’ are desperately hoping for change – after Cllr Wilson, holding his first cabinet meeting as leader – declared the fees would be examined ‘in the next week’.

He told The News: ‘I’m well aware a number of residents and non-residents have raised this issue – I’m alive to it.

‘I’ve taken it on board and I’ve agreed to review it in the light of our policy on this area.

‘Once I’ve reached a decision about it, if necessary, I will make a change.’

The review will be the second undertaken by HBC in less than a year, off the back of rallying from Facebook group Hayling Happy Hutters.

But the first – spearheaded by group founder Barbara Colson, from Winchester – led only to falling fees for residents, with the fate of ‘unfair’ non-residents’ fees unchanged.

As of this week, the annual plot licence for out-of-borough hut owners has risen from £900 to £1,234, since 2015.

Ms Colson, 54, said: ‘I am shocked the council still has not made any progress into looking at the fees paid by non-residents – the difference has become a problem.

‘The more the price goes up, the less money outsiders will have to spend when they come to visit their huts on Hayling – I can’t even afford insurance for mine anymore.

‘If nothing happens with this next review, you [HBC] will be hearing from us.’

As part of his review, Cllr Wilson confirmed he would look into why HBC adopted a 2006 policy of charging non-residents ‘double the figure’ hut owners living in the borough pay each year.

Statistically, Hayling Island is home to 384 beach huts over nine sites.

Of this figure, the 316 which are privately-owned are all taken, with 145 people on a waiting list to make a purchase.

The remaining 68 – available for annual rental – are owned by HBC and nine are vacant.

These will be offered to people on a 103-strong waiting list.