Proposals for the users of Felixstowe’s beach huts and chalets to form their own association have been welcomed by Suffolk Coastal’s Council Leader who attended a special public meeting this week.
Julie Downton had set up the meeting in response to the decision taken in January to increase rents for the 77 chalets, and the annual licence fees for over 900 beach huts, by 20 per cent and 12 per cent respectively.
“I would thank Julie for inviting me to attend and explain some of the reasons why we as a Council had little option but to revise our charges and to agree these price rises, a decision that has already been made,” said Cllr Ray Herring, the Council’s Leader.
“Having one voice rather than nearly 1,000 to hear from and to speak to would be a really positive step forward in my view. It means we will be able to get their opinions in future and so help shape the way we make our decisions and how our services are provided.
“One of the things that were clear from yesterday’s meeting was that quite a few people felt that they should be getting more from their annual licence fee. I want to make sure that they, just like all our other customers, are getting the quality of service they are entitled to and this meeting and the new Association should help that happen,” added Cllr Herring.
The Council has previously explained its reason for the increase was that it has to balance its spending and income in a year when its Government grants towards services fell by another seven per cent on top of previously announced 30 per cent reductions.
“We have a duty to be as efficient and business like as possible to ensure value for money for all our communities. This has meant we have reviewed all our charges and in our view those for beach huts and chalets continue to be broadly comparable with other councils and there is an unmet demand for them with a long waiting list.
“Therefore, we think we are justified in having raised our prices closer to what the market value is, and to help ensure our Council Taxpayers see a fair return for Council facilities. An in depth review of our pricing and the views of the new Association will be taken into account when we consider what to charge for 2014/15.
“The additional expected income from this year’s decision will be about £30,000 and will help us keep offering the priority services that our communities both want and expect from this Council,” added Cllr Herring.
The Leader requested that the organisers compile and forward the more detailed questions that was unable to be answered at the meeting so that he could ensure that full, transparent and accurate responses were provided.