A BEACH hut association has expressed its concern regarding a council’s move from licences to leases.

Associations from across Tendring were in the public gallery of the council’s resources and services overview and scrutiny committee meeting last week.

During the meeting, the task and finish group discussed Tendring Council’s proposals to review its beach hut strategy.

Melanie Whitehead, chairwoman of the Walton Beach Hut Association, said: “Our main concern is the move to leases, the decision hasn’t been made by the cabinet yet but it feels like it’s a done deal to us.

“In terms of people who rent huts out, I think they felt the commercial lease aspect wasn’t covered enough.

“Using the term commercial also makes it sound like an anonymous big business coming out of the district is involved when its mostly residents, some of whom have several huts.”

Among the proposed changes in the new beach hut strategy are to introduce a commercial lease permitting owners to rent out their hut for more than ten days per year, and to look at how the council can review adaptations which fall outside of the current specification.

Alex Porter, Tendring councillor responsible for leisure and tourism said: "We have proposed secure leases as part of the draft strategy to provide more long-term security for hut owners; fees for leases would replace the licence fee, not be charged in addition to this fee, and would be set with consideration to the market value if implemented.

“The draft strategy also proposes a commercial lease for hut owners who want to rent out their huts as a business (for more than 10 days per year).

“If approved, those wishing to run a hut as a business will need to go through an application process, fees will be set at a commercial rate as they are with all other businesses on council land, and in line with our legal obligation to provide value for money for our taxpayers.”

The beach hut strategy will be discussed during a cabinet meeting on Friday, February 17, and the next scrutiny committee meeting on Tuesday, February 21.