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Felixstowe beach hut owners fight East Suffolk Council against eviction





Beach hut owners have launched a legal fight against a council's decision to evict them from the prom in the historic Spa Pavilion area at Felixstowe.

The 44 beach huts were moved onto the prom from the beach about four years ago as a temporary measure due to low sand levels.

Owners were then 'shocked' to be given 'notice of termination for their existing sites' at the Spa by East Suffolk Council, said crime writer Ruth Dugdall, who is part of the campaign group. She added they are due to be evicted by Thursday, March 31.

Ruth Dugdall said beach hut owners were 'shocked' to be given 'notice of termination for their existing sites' at the Spa by East Suffolk Council. Picture: Ruth Dugdall.
Ruth Dugdall said beach hut owners were 'shocked' to be given 'notice of termination for their existing sites' at the Spa by East Suffolk Council. Picture: Ruth Dugdall.

Felixstowe is believed to be one of the first beaches in the country to have beach huts, with the traditional seaside cabins having graced the sands there since the late-19th century.

While the council has found alternative locations for 30 of the 44 huts, 14 remain with nowhere to go.

Ruth said campaigners are seeking a judicial review of the council's decision to evict them from their site, which they feel failed to take into account alternative options.

Beach huts.
Beach huts.

Along with the 'pre-action protocol' letter, they have also included a petition of more than 1,500 signatures.

A spokesperson for East Suffolk Council said: "We are working as hard as we possibly can to support everyone affected but fundamentally, this comes down to the aggressive changes in beach conditions which are affecting parts of the Suffolk coast."

The council says their position on the prom 'impacts on other users'.

Beach hut owners want to stay in the Spa area, Ruth said, and had suggested putting the huts on platforms on the beach or setting them back off the prom in 'niches' - or waiting until the beach replenishes.

East Suffolk Council says it has 'thoroughly explored all reasonable options'.

Ruth said: "People have fallen in love in the huts, had anniversary parties, birthday parties. It's life. They are pieces of our hearts.

"We don't feel we are fighting just to keep our huts. We feel we are fighting for Felixstowe."

She said the huts were part of the town's DNA.

"Everyone in this town is connected to the beach huts in some way," she said. "Every one of those huts is a microcosm for friends and family, memories."

Ruth, from Felixstowe, bought her beach hut 21 years ago when she was pregnant with her daughter Amber and said she had done most of her writing there.

"Some of the huts are owned by people with disabilities who use it for respite care," she added. "Our neighbouring hut has been in their family for 100 years."

She said she does not know whether her hut is one of the 14 with no alternative location and is not aware of compensation being offered to the beach hut owners.

The huts would usually be on the beach in the summer and off in the winter, Ruth added.

Steve Gallant, leader of East Suffolk Council, said in February: “Safety is our absolute, number one priority and we have been clear to beach hut owners about this throughout a three-year examination of all options.

“The levels of erosion mean it is simply not possible for huts to return to the beach and their relocation to the promenade was only ever going to be temporary given the considerable disruption caused to other visitors."

To sign the petition visit change.org