Mudeford Sandbank Latest News

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Beach hut security solution found?   [Added  22 January 2006)

The question of how much it costs to keep, buy or dispose of a hut at Mudeford Sandbank ignores one great worry that lies at the back of the mind of many owners, namely “is my little hut alright when I am not there?”

Burnt out hut by arsonists
Having sold the family hut, and now reduced to hiring out another hut out of season your editor has discovered he actually enjoys the beach and the shelter of a hut best out of season. Close your eyes for a moment and put yourself there, now, at a time when you would normally be doing something else. It might make you shiver!
But out of season when you are normally absent,  there are other dangers beside the cold: vandalism, theft, arson, storm and flood to name just a few. Attending residents association meetings in the area one realises many residents are hostage to the fear of crime, if not crime itself, even if, in our case, it is in our absence.
Boy-racers, motorbike riders, teenage drinkers and the general bravado of the wild and free are only a short distance away. Never mind those with criminal intent.
I am nightly finding this area is quietly or otherwise being encroached by an insidious anti-social trend that has ruined other neighbourhoods. Only remoteness and luck have kept this and more serious trouble largely at bay for the moment.
yob arsonist cartoon with thanks to the artist
What we need, to reduce or prevent this malaise that has visited the Head, harbour and beach in the past, is a regular low-key and low-impact dedicated security patrol.
Hut owners will know that huts, even empty ones with nothing of value, can become a target, especially at night and especially in the winter months. I was contacted by the local police recently to see what I knew, and was able to relate from my personal experience, my attendance at  many residents associations meetings over the years and my extensive newspaper clipping files what problems had arisen and what initiatives had been tried in the past. Crime needs to be prevented, reduced and reported whenever possible or we can lose the better picture we value so much more.
Whilst huts are and remain a low priority for a trained police force,  I know that many small crimes go unreported because owners quietly take it on their own shoulders when their huts are damaged or threatened.
Security has become something now that seems very important to me, so much so that I have attended a few security-industry events and enrolled on a security course to become qualified, if not as an expert, then as a practitioner.
So the next time you see me on the beach, you may see that far from having nothing to do with hut owners problems any more, I am busy trying to work out if the 350-odd hut owners might be persuaded to contribute a few pounds to an out of season trained guard, thus subsidising and rewarding regularity in my winter visits!
I am busy drawing up (on the back of envelopes at present) specifications for a suitable vehicle,  a uniform, a schedule, suitable training and certification, electronic gadgetry to cover the area and methods to keep warm, comfortable and dry.
Security van on steroids...a Forward Control 101 Land Rover from the from the MOD ex-Cyprus
Already I have had offers of beach huts to actually use as a base. It would seem that there are some at least who would sleep safer in their beds knowing someone is keeping an eye out for their little huts.
And that someone, to obviate the “waste” of police or council resources being spent for little obvious result, could be me. It is all about  securing value for money.
Watch this space for further deliberations and ambitions to make Mudeford a place where we are all on top of things and nothing avoidable should be allowed to get us down. That is, if you have not been forced off the beach first by a new tide of rising costs and other fees! That is all about money for value. Or is that daylight robbery?

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Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre Possible   [Added 17 December 2005]
Whilst the battle over beach hut transfer fees of up to £26,000 (payable to the council) when a hut is sold continues, a small piece of news has passed most of us by.

Readers of the Summer 2003 Hengistbury Head Times will have read in John Cresswell's article of the recently frustrated ambition of the council to build a new field studies and interpretation centre on the headland. Avid supporters of the scheme have argued the plan failed simply because the funding was clawed back. Opponents of the scheme argued it was not appropriate in the setting. Insiders know that the scheme became so bitterly opposed in the BH6 residential area it failed to meet all of the funding criteria.

However, council ambitions, political will and the need for a centre of some sort have spawned a compromise, to use and refurbish existing buildings. The old Marine Training Centre at the riverside will continue to provide water based training in the safe upper reaches of Christchurch Harbour, (the classroom function will largely move to the old barn) but will likely house the Noddy Train, just the mechanicals of it, after hours at least. This will free up dramatically the approach to the old barn.

The existing Hungry Hiker food stop at the end of the Broadway will be enlarged to reflect its commercial success, and the old barn at the entrance to the head will become, with daring changes, an educational resource centre and visitor facility. Bournemouth Council's landscape and technical manager, Mr David Crudgington has been patiently explaining this new development and in general has met with guarded approval, even from long opponents to earlier schemes, mainly because it uses (and rescues) existing buildings.

It is to be welcomed that there are so many would be guardians of the Head even if the previous scheme was arguably effectively defeated by them in the past.

The devil will be in the detail and this news source has suggested that the security of the scheme could be enhanced by providing a 300 square foot full-time residential pod quietly incorporated in the scheme (or even a la David Horden, the famous architect of the micro compact home) for this author who at present only has a rented beach day-hut nearby, having sold off the family sleeping hut in 2004.

I might even be persuaded to staff the new centre, or at a pinch go back (in my 50's) to driving again the Noddy Train after an absence of a couple of decades working in a library. Hmmmm, yes, this author definitely welcomes Mr Crudgington's scheme, in a selfless, independent and unbiased way, for the sake of the Headland and future generations of students and the public.

The long queue of others wanting to work there will prove the attraction of this scheme.

Watch this space for the latest news.
Christchurch Council tread softly as hut prices plummet   Added : 14.11.2005

Usually Christchurch Council fix the fees and charges for beach huts at Mudeford Sandbank for the following year in November, sometimes facing a packed and angry public gallery as they seek to charge whatever the market will bear.

This year, councillors already face a projected council deficit of £400,000. Part of this is a shortfall of £42,000 on the already conservatively guesstimated hut transfer fees (because hut buyers have been few and far between). The council is debt-free and frequently seen as highly efficient in organising its finances.

Your editor's previous claim the average number of sales of huts over the last 35 years has been about a dozen a year is correct but in the last decade this has crept up to 20 or 30 annually as the market has hotted-up.

One previous beach hut association chairman has termed this rise in hut sales has amounted to "ethnic cleansing" as old family names have sold up in the face of rising revenue costs and of course capital values. Whatever feelings are expressed over hut ownership there has been a constant strain between the aristocratic force and the democratic one in this matter, with the council as referee and rule maker.

The reason for hutters concern over the cost of hut ownership and its eventual sale is simple. They are being milked for all they are worth!

Councillors argue their electorate who vote them into power have no choice over paying council tax so it must be kept down, but where people have choice, such as in car parking, leisure charges and suchlike; that can be increased above inflation. This meets with the wishes of published consultations with ratepayers elsewhere in the town.

The officers, however, are put in an almost impossible position in this balancing act between hut owners and the wider public without alienating one or the other.

Jim Atkins, former chairman of the Mudeford Sandbank Beach Hut Association, said outside a public meeting to the press that he felt his members had been discriminated against. Significantly European law requires councillors to not discriminate against anyone. An impossible task in politics which is "all about who gets what", according to a lecturer of mine at the I M Marsh College of Physical Education in the radical seventies.

In any event the Office of Fair Trading has been invoked at my suggestion to see if, (as with the New Forest District Council) council terms generally are fair or unfair. This is now a matter between the association and the council which will eventually, if investigated, helpfully join the public record. For what we might expect to happen click on this link after finishing this news item see here.

In the meantime the local press have heard of a hut, advertised at £120,000 a year ago has just been sold for £75,000. With a transfer fee of £21,000 the consequence is nearly a 50% fall in its realisation. This upsets not only anyone with a hut to sell, but the council and their plans to establish an above-inflation licence-fee income together with the controversial transfer fee regime that, it is planned, increases by half each year until the council gets a (so far) legal share of the sale of the hut – justified because it is on council-controlled land.

At a public council consultation (over the council tax) your editor argued that there should be no taxation without representation since only about 50 of the 350 huts owners are Christchurch voters. The answer was that the fees and charges are not a tax, the small element of council tax is collected by a grateful Bournemouth Council, who are the ground landlords for most of the beach, but who provide no services!. So owning a hut is seen as similar to car ownership, yet one that when sold achieves a fee of approaching a half of its value to the council!

A repeated proposal from the hutters' association is that the Council allow the few annual in-family transfers at a reduced rate of £1,000. This is to help perpetuate old family lines on the beach who have been forced to sell up through a combination of rising prices and fees. But the "commercial" sales to outsiders would be facing a much increased fee to compensate the council from lost revenue.

Helpfully the "damned if they do and damned if they don't" council have decided to do a rapid consultation at the eleventh hour directly with the hut owners to see if this is really what they want, but this an apparent snub to the association whose exasperated chairman said "I don't believe it" after that possibly skittish decision.

Whatever the outcome, a hut is now a fragile investment and you have to love the place to justify buying one now, a state of affairs that may in fact save the beach from the fawning lifestyle colour- supplement onslaught that has reflected and possibly fuelled the massive price rises over the last decade and a half.

Oh, and don't blame me , this is all out or my (or anyone else's?) control. It's the market, stupid.

Watch this space for the news, hopefully as it happens. Feel free to email the editor here at www.msbnews.co.uk with any relevant facts or opinions.

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Beach Hut Prices at Mudeford Sandbank Fall   Added : 07.04.2005
One shore beyond desire

On March 18th at auction (auctioneers Symonds and Sampson) a sleeping beach hut failed to meet its reserve of £80,000, confirming local knowledge that sales had stalled on the beach.

It is apparent from nearly two-dozen 'For Sale' signs before the Easter holiday that although vendors are anxious to sell, buyers are currently few and far between. This is most unusual.

Vendors have been keen to sell this Spring because the progressive transfer fees payable to Christchurch Council rose on April 1st for a hut from £15,000 to £21,000 as expected. Also licence fees have spiralled to close on £2,000 per hut and although the beach has never looked better, the old cheap and informal ways are being supplanted by a new ruthless profit-led and cost-driven worldliness.

Articles on the sudden price slump appeared in the local media and the national press and even an overseas newspaper just before Easter. Maxine Frith, Social Affairs Correspondent of the Independent (25th March 2005) led the pack with a superbly researched piece. [see the 2005 edition of the Mudeford Sandbank News)

Sales may yet recover if demand is restored. But this would have to be in the face of vendors passing on the increasing transfer fees to buyers. Historically, about a dozen huts have changed hands on average each year over the last 30 years. There has been something of a buying frenzy in the last dozen years, despite the rising prices.

The 354 huts contribute £630,000 in annual licence fees. In 2002/3 the transfer fee windfall to the council was £109,000. In 2004/05 it was £239,000. In 2005/6 it should be at least £309,000 in the council's favour. The following year the rate (if not the total as it depends on the number of huts being sold or transferred) should increase by half again. The council want to gradually achieve a 50% share of a hut's profit on sale because it is the (council owned) land that has the real value.

Also any recovery in sales would have to be in the face of uncertainties over the beach lease from Bournemouth Council which is due for renewal in either 2029 (or 2036 depending on who you speak to!) But the fact that the huts have become a 'golden goose' is an assurance that the huts will continue to colonise this beach, as the values have been rising at least until the 2005 'correction'.

On the other hand, it is still a paradise down here. And will be, people know, for generations to come. But efforts to reduce the transfer fees when passed down within families, if successful, may reduce supply even more and force prices upwards again. Publicity (even bad publicity over falling prices) has brought a new clutch of Easter weekend visitors looking for an apparent bargain. This is a perennial phenomenon it seems to me.

It is not just waves that encroach upon the shore.

It is an exiting time, not least because having sold my family's sleeping-hut (after three quarters of a century of occupation), admittedly at what has been 'the top of the market', I am no longer 'Beach Hut Man'.

My plan to buy back into a smaller hut more suited to my needs and based on my sense of what I or my family would be prepared to pay is still in question. Objectively I would not be able to recommend 'buy' or 'sell' to anyone else even if I have just more than doubled my new paper investments in six months using the American NASDAQ stock market. (AAPL and PIXR if you must know).

Distance from poverty does lend enchantment to the view, but it is a cold wind that blows if you do not have a hut. The simplicity of beach-hut-life is a more enchanting prospect than that of hut-less financial excess. Honestly.

I told would-be buyers of our hut not to buy expecting prices to continue to increase, but to give themselves and their children a sanctuary from the world. I believed they would be right to buy, for that reason.

They probably were right to buy in, for whilst the hut-strewn seafront at nearby Bournemouth has 100 arrests on average each year, our own Mudeford Sandbank has had perhaps one arrest in the last 100 years!

Oh! for the simple happy childish days of my youth, in a sanctuary untroubled by the grasping hand of greed, fear of being displaced by ruthless market forces and troubling council policies.

But thank you to everyone who has made the decision to sell last August less painful than it might otherwise have been. I currently may be found (at least out of season) in a hired hut at the end of the beach plotting my comeback. Due to council policies even that temporary solution is under threat of becoming beyond my justifiable reach.

Absence has made the heart grow fonder. I recommend a trial separation for anyone in any relationship, however beautiful the partner you have. The best shore is one beyond our desire.

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Beach Hut for sale at £145,000  Added : 21.08.2004
Hut 5, at the end of the beach by the Black House, has gone on the market at a record price of £145,000. This includes a sum to cover the present Council transfer fee of £15,000, which the vendor has to pay the Council to finalise the deal.

Huts have been reaching £120,000 easily, so much so that your editor has amazingly sold his own hut to pacify his family over rising prices. However if you read the article Daydream or Nightmare in the 2004 edition of the Hengistbury Head Times you may read of his secret and clever plan to obtain another site for a fraction of the cost. Sadly, it does not look it will become a reality, as prices for even a day-hut are spiralling out of control and require a cavalier attitude to what money is worth.

The three newspapers and this website have now become a valediction to Mudeford Sandbank. Despite not having a hut as a base anymore, this website may even become more up-to date, with the now possible new investment in equipment and training to better publish on-line.

It is hoped to still produce at least the newspaper the Mudeford Sandbank News for sale on the beach as a hard copy in the future. For simplicity the former Hengistbury Head Times and the former Christchurch Harbour Chronicle will become incorporated into the forthcoming new hard copy version of the Mudeford Sandbank News.

But not to worry, this website will still reveal everything that has been produced on paper.

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Corrections, Retractions and Apologies  Added : 21.02.2004
In January 2003 all three newspapers proudly carried the article Alice In Wonderland after 5 weeks of research and scrutiny of several hundred internet pages.
As a consequence the story was faithfully mirrored by the American mind control victims' web site http://www.heart7.net/ and linked to by the media site http://www.hourofthetime.com/ as an 'excellent article on mind control'.

On the 18th February 2004 I received a letter from Mr Wayne Munkel. I was to be told not to rely on a misleading citation of his name (two actually) that had been instrumental in my research in leading me to the American Army Security Agency of which he is a veteran. I was respectfully requested to publish the following letter as his response.... click here for full details

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Circulating in the Dorset region   Added : 02.08.2003
 Click to enlarge Widely circulating in the Dorset region are some quarter of a million cards, just like this one (click here for a larger image).

Your editor has been researching the story behind these cards for the past two years. Some think it must be a scam, but I can reveal it represents the labours and frustrations of a millionaire who lived until recently on the shores of Christchurch Harbour, in a house visible from my hut window.

Unfortunately the story must be regarded as sub judice for the moment and I do wonder if the truth will ever be told. This newspaper does not subscribe to the Mail Order Protection Scheme common to the mainstream newspapers.

So, if you do hazard your £25 to "take part" (as I have been happy to) then I can offer no guarantee that your money is safe. But, I have done so and with no regrets as this could potentially be an explosive story. The corporate investigator Roy Pack, a person happy to swim in such waters, who has been following developments, regards the situation as a virtual bomb ready to go off and does not mind me saying so.

Watch this space for updates if and when possible.

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New Issues now on sale   Added : 07.06.2003
 abstract graphicThe Summer Editions of Mudeford Sandbank News, Hengistbury Head Times and The Christchurch Harbour Chronicle have been published and all three publications are now available to buy as a printed version.

The cost is one pound each and they can be bought from the beach at Mudeford Sandbank or from local newsagents.

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Breaking News   Added : 29.03.2003
Today an unconfirmed rumour that seems likely to be true has been circulating that a Mudeford Beach hut, (a large one just past the Cafe on the harbourside before the Black House is reached) has been sold for £100,000. The hut number, buyer and seller are known, but the figure is as yet unsubstantiated. Whilst the figure is usually a matter only for the buyer and the seller it does reflect confidence in a market that has taken a drop in recent months. For example a visit to the local estate agent website www.humpreysorr.co.uk today showed 3 huts for sale over the last week at £55,000, £58,000 and £75,000.

This more or less represents a decline in asking or selling prices over recent months, fuelled presumably by the Council transfer fee increases having an impact on seller and buyer confidence in the market here. For example, reportedly last weekend (soon after the Beach Hut residents' association meeting advising there was little that could be done about the Council's cash grab, the local estate agent had several enquiries from would be sellers. They were, no doubt, seeking to avoid the transfer fee to the Council increasing at months-end to a figure approaching £9,000 from the figure today of some £5,000.a figure expected to increase by half each year until it represents half of the vendor's profit. This newspaper has little interest in commercial matters affecting hut prices, but is obliged to report facts and trends. Notwithstanding, though, the sum of £100,000 remains unsubstantiated at the time of writing. It is believed to be a true figure, despite the possibility for mischief elsewhere. If true it is an increase on the current Sandbank record of £85,000 paid by another local estate agent a few months ago.

Please see the local Bournemouth "Daily Echo" who has today been in contact with the Mudeford Sandbank News (as has a News Agency and the Guardian), in trying to establish the facts for publication. By comparison, a nearby Highcliffe day hut (i.e. not a sleeping one) across the harbour entrance is advertised in the local New Milton Advertiser on sale tomorrow, at a staggering £20,000, although a figure of £1,000 is more usual elsewhere along this coast.

I wonder if the value of the huts is a function of the national publicity they have generated, or just the added value that the Mudeford Sandbank News has attracted in the past five years!

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Alice In Wonderland - Part 1   Added : 21.12.2002
See the Mudeford Sandbank News Archive for the latest issue - please use the following link...

Special Issues Jan 2003

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What's it cost?   Added : 14.11.2002
Mudeford Sandbank annual hut license fees for those lucky enough to own a beach hut are to increase by six percent to £1,400

When ownership is transferred to another person the £5,000 plus transfer fee payable to the Council will increase as promised to £8,000 in 2003. This is planned to rise so that it becomes fifty percent of the profit on sale. The profit to someone losing their hut could easily be £65,000 plus at present, showing the transfer fee could become over £30,000.

With 354 huts the Council therefore now enjoy a revenue of some half a million pounds each year from the huts from hut licences. Only about a dozen huts are usually sold each year when the transfer fee has to be paid.

The transfer fee controversy, being currently payable by descendants or incomers alike was the main subject of issue 7 of the Mudeford Sandbank News, for the full story see the archive.

The voting this year was unanimous, having been worked up by the officers, the proposal being "happily" put by Cllr Flagg and seconded "quite happily" by Cllr Hickey.

Happy also to have seconded the proposal if needed, Councillor Chris Legg, sitting near to Cllr Lucas-Rowe, cheekily observed this increase was "pretty generous to those beach hut owners, as they seem to have lots of money". Councillor Russell Lucas-Rowe being a beach hut owner, whilst allowed to be present under Council rules and sitting only a swords-length away, was unable to speak in reply (or, of course, vote).

Councillor Lucas-Rowe, a hut owner for the last few years (who paid a record price for his double aspect hut at the time) is a local landowner who presides over the Alice in Wonderland theme park next to Hurn Airport. His name is said to be an anagram.

Councillor Harold Cooper, the Council leader and an ex-valuer had recommended adopting a policy of a four percent rise across the board and having a closer look wherever possible to squeeze as much as possible "within reason", the huts falling into this category.

Hut owners are now faced with a choice, stay put and see the hut's realisable value plummet, or sell up whilst prices still hold. Hence the wry suggestion of a previous Hut Association Chairman last year (see issue 7) that "ethnic cleansing" was going on. Even parents who wish the hut to be inherited down generations are facing the prospect the family hut may have to be sold anyway in the end to pay for the transfer fee...a scenario many aristocrats have had to face in the past concerning their vast estates!

Now it seems to apply to the once humble beach hut. The hut owner's residents' association has sought legal advice on this matter. Watch this space if and when the results become publicly available! If you have a view please post it to this site

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A new colour postcard hits the beach   Added : 7.10.2002
 Click here to see fullsize postcard This website's friend, Brian Randall, has once again captured the magic of Mudeford in art.

His latest effort, "Mudeford Summer" uses the very best artistic licence, even if his hut is now much bigger than mine in this view. Instant reactions from hutters have included..."that's my entire childhood on that card".

This card retails at 30 pence locally in season as a simple postcard. Individual cards are not available by post, but a minimum order size of 50 post cards for £15.00 (post paid) has been agreed.

Brian has offered to make available large format (approxA3) laser prints for £10.00 post paid. His address is Brian Randall , "Romerfield, Lakewood Close, Chandler's Ford, SOUTHAMPTON, Hampshire (UK) Postcode S053 1EY.

Sorry no telephone number, to avoid any untimely calls. Contributors of items accepted for this website could well get a complimentary acknowledgement from the editor on one of these postcards!

Click here to zoom in.

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She Sells Sea Shells On The Sea Shore   Added : 27.8.2002
Most people keep coming back to Mudeford because they can't take it with them. But local mums and kids have been making this possible.

 Clarabel and Jessie Clarabel (aged 8) and Jessie (aged 9) have been decorating and selling shells and stones collected whilst on holiday. Passers by have been captivated by the naive skill seen here on a few shells, or engaged by the bracelets and necklaces that ooze native charm. Last year proceeds from the sales realised over £100 for cancer research.

Mum Kathy (housewife) and Aunty Jackey (ex-guider) say it amuses the children and a lot of people are more than happy to pay in excess of the 30p or so asked for each item. Jackey said she "couldn't just sit still and do nothing even if her husband "the Bass-killer" understands nothing about art. She notes wryly that he uses her craft techniques and materials, though, for his fly-fishing.

The local daily Echo have been down and although Kathy and Jacky say they would love to just live down here and do this for a pastime they know it is a short season and they and the kids are definitely not in it for the money.

 Shell Necklaces Kathy's partner, suntanned 'Andy the Surfer' says that they could set up shop on the beach but life is too short for that, anyway, he says, they obviously haven't got anything better to do, for example, he says I keep asking Kathy out on my board but she's too frightened of the water.

The good news is that this year it looks like they will have raised over £100 for Great Ormand Street Childrens Hospital. But sorry folks, there are no more shells or stones (until maybe next August) now that this years stock has been sold. Anyway, you could always make some of your own!

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What's It Worth?   Added : 26.8. 2002
A thing is only worth what a person will pay to obtain it. A Mudeford beach hut is currently fetching £60,000+. The effect of the council's cash grab on resale has yet to be felt, with the transfer fee charged on sale intended to rise to 50% of the profit achieved by the vendor. The transfer fee is the councils cut which is planned to rise from a current maximum of say £6,000 to perhaps £30,000 or more.

For example a hut priced at £72,500 recently eventually changed hands for £68,500 after a couple of months on the market (sales are a little slower than of late with £75,000 having been achieved last year).

So we could probably conservatively hazard that the 350 huts could achieve £60,000 each giving a ball-park valuation of £21,000,000 for the lot.

Being almost entirely privately owned the council may hope for less than half of this figure, i.e. their eventual 50% of the profits- which will in any case vary from hut to hut on sale. So the council should perhaps value the huts prospectively at up to £10,500,000.

Christchurch Borough Council has to seek best value for its assets, and as part of this has published an Asset Management Plan in July 2002, under the prior Chairmanship of Cllr Harold Cooper the leader of the Council. Councillor Cooper has in the past been a valuer. The Asset Plan is now under the direction of the Property Strategy Group. One objective of the group is to assess the capital and revenue advantages of holding/disposing of assets.

It is therefore interesting to note that in the published report the Council regards the sandbank as only being valued at £1,757,524. Furthermore the projection is one of straight-line depreciation for the extent of the lease until 2029, not one of appreciation as might be expected under the existing or proposed policies. Perhaps since only on average 10 huts come on to the market each year and their value is at risk as the lease expires the figure is after all a correct assessment.

It is too early to report if this is so. Perhaps the matter will be cleared up in coming months with an explanation from the council.

Watch this space.

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