South coast beach hut owners begin storm clean-up

Milford on Sea storm damaged beach huts Beach huts in Milford on Sea were among the hundreds destroyed in the St Valentine's Day storm

About 600 beach huts along the south coast have been either damaged or destroyed in the St Valentine's Day storm.

Figures obtained by BBC Radio Solent have revealed the scale of the clean-up operation facing owners and councils in Hampshire and Dorset since Friday.

Avon Beach in Christchurch has been closed to the public to allow debris from 70 damaged huts to be cleared.

Private owners have been advised to claim on their own policies.

The stretch of coastline managed by New Forest District Council, which includes Milford on Sea and Barton on Sea, has seen 40 huts destroyed and 100 damaged.

On Friday, 32 diners at the Marine Restaurant in Milford on Sea had to be rescued after becoming trapped by surging flood water.

Chris Saunders, seafront manager at Bournemouth Borough Council, is overseeing the clear-up of 387 damaged or destroyed huts in areas including Boscombe and Southbourne.

He said: "On private sites, we've been trying to contact owners and talk them through the next steps.

"Some huts have only been partially damaged, others are completely missing.

"We're trying to establish what needs doing with each individual hut, whether it's a minor repair or a complete replacement.

"We will help private tenants as much as we can with clearing debris and realigning huts, but for council-owned huts it will be a case of making a claim through the council."

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