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Campaigner Ruth Dugdall recalls three-year struggle as final decision on Felixstowe beach huts looms





A campaigner who has called for the return of beach huts to a seafront has spoken of three years of ‘blood, sweat, and tears’ as a final decision looms closer.

Ruth Dugdall, a crime novelist from Felixstowe, has campaigned for the return of 14 beach huts to the Spa Pavilion area for the best part of three years.

Next Tuesday, East Suffolk’s cabinet is set to give the final seal of approval following December’s planning permission for the huts to come back to their historic location and be placed on top of wooden platforms.

Ruth Dugdall (in red scarf) pictured campaigning at 'beach hut prison' car park in Felixstowe. Picture: Ruth Dugdall
Ruth Dugdall (in red scarf) pictured campaigning at 'beach hut prison' car park in Felixstowe. Picture: Ruth Dugdall

Ms Dugdall said she was confident cabinet members would approve the proposal and agree to enter into individual 20-year leases, but did not take the decision for granted.

She added: “For a long time, we were fighting the council to retain the beach huts, but when the council’s administration changed, the story shifted — they recognised our efforts and that history would be lost.

“We have now met with many people from the council who have assured us that they are supportive and they’re with us.”

A final decision is set to be made next Tuesday
A final decision is set to be made next Tuesday

A council spokesperson said: “East Suffolk Council’s Cabinet will consider the proposals next week. Rising sea levels and more severe weather events certainly pose challenges.

“But ultimately, we want to work with hut owners to find solutions which enable our residents and visitors to enjoy our beaches and beach huts for many years to come.”

In 2021, the previous administration decided to remove all 44 beach huts, which date back to the 1880s making them the first in Britain, with 30 finding new homes and 14 left in a car park, labelled ‘beach hut prison’, with nowhere to go.

However, after a long campaign which included a petition signed by over 5,000 people, Ms Dugdall said she hoped the huts could be back by August, just in time for the Love Felixstowe festival.

She said: “It’s been absolutely exhausting, a real roller coaster, it has been blood, sweat, and tears the whole way.

“This has been a real feel-good David and Goliath story that shows the power of community — it just shows that if you really believe in something, you can make it happen.”

If supported on Tuesday, the next steps would see the terms of the work agreed, with around two weeks of building following shortly after.

Before their grand opening, the huts would also be renovated and signage would be set up to highlight their historic value.