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Felixstowe girl writes letter to East Suffolk Council leader in plea to 'change mind' over moving beach huts from prom



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An eight-year-old girl has appealed to a council leader to be 'kind' and 'compassionate' and allow beach huts in a historic seafront location to stay put.

Hattie Sturman has written a moving letter to Steve Gallant, leader of East Suffolk Council, about the beach huts on the prom in the Felixstowe Spa Pavilion area that are earmarked for relocation.

Campaigners are challenging East Suffolk Council's decision, with a petition of more than 3,500 signatures going before a full council meeting on May 25.

Hattie on the day she pinned copies of her letter to the beach huts (56478428)
Hattie on the day she pinned copies of her letter to the beach huts (56478428)

Of the 44 huts affected, the council has said it has alternative sites for 30, leaving 14 with no-where to go.

In her letter, Hattie, from Felixstowe, expressed her sadness that her beach hut has to move and she is especially upset that 14 huts have no-where to go at all.

Hattie's letter to the leader of East Suffolk Council Steve Gallant (56459816)
Hattie's letter to the leader of East Suffolk Council Steve Gallant (56459816)

She wrote: "At my school, we learn all about our school values. One of them is compassion and that means caring about others and treating them with kindness.

"The decision you have made about our beach hut doesn't feel very kind or compassionate at all. I would like our beach hut to stay where it is and I hope it's not too late to change your mind.

"If you cannot change your mind please will you use your superpowers of kindness and compassion to find a home for everyone?"

In her letter, which she illustrated, she also said her beach hut was one of her 'favourite places in the whole wide world'.

The beach huts in the Felixstowe Spa area
The beach huts in the Felixstowe Spa area

In his response, seen by Suffolk News, Mr Gallant thanked Hattie for her 'beautifully written letter' and said he was also 'very sad' about what was happening, but it wasn't safe for the huts to stay on the beach 'because we are worried that they would be damaged or flooded'.

He added: "Also, it isn't really very safe to leave them on the promenade all year round. When the prom is really busy on a lovely, sunny day, there isn't enough room for the huts and all the people that visit and enjoy being there.

"It is such a shame, but we do really just want to keep everyone safe - which I think is a kind thing to do."

Mr Gallant said he was 'very sorry' they could not find places for all of the huts to move to.

Hattie Sturman from Felixstowe (56458623)
Hattie Sturman from Felixstowe (56458623)

Hattie's mother Caroline Sturman, 44, said her daughter, who she described as 'very sensitive and very caring', had been 'really pleased' to get a response from the council leader.

Speaking about Hattie's motivation for writing her letter, she said: "Hattie is obviously very disappointed there's a possibility we may lose our hut, but the thing she was particularly upset about and found very difficult to comprehend was how unfair it is out of 44 of us 14 of us are not going to have a hut [site]."

She added: "And as a parent I found that very difficult to explain to her as well."

A spokesperson for East Suffolk Council said: “We totally understand that this situation impacts on people of all ages and as we have said many times, we do wish there was an alternative.

“Hattie wrote a lovely letter to us and the leader of the council felt she deserved a reply which tried to explain why we are in this unfortunate position.”

Erosion of the sandbank at Felixstowe which forced the removal of beach huts from the beach and onto a temporary promenade location. Picture by East Suffolk Council. (55368021)
Erosion of the sandbank at Felixstowe which forced the removal of beach huts from the beach and onto a temporary promenade location. Picture by East Suffolk Council. (55368021)

The beach huts have been on the prom since 2018 as they were unable to return to the beach - where they are normally sited in the summer - for safety reasons due to erosion and storms.

Mr Gallant previously said the huts' relocation to the promenade 'was only ever going to be temporary given the considerable disruption caused to other visitors'.

But a Freedom of Information (FOI) request submitted by Suffolk News has found the council has received only five complaints relating to the huts being an obstruction between 2019 and 2022 up until April.