Felixstowe beach hut owner saws back off property in rent protest

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Media captionAlan Sarfas cut 18in (46cm) off his beach hut in Felixstowe

A beach hut owner has cut off the back of his beloved property in protest at council rent rises.

Alan Sarfas took a jigsaw to his hut in Felixstowe after Suffolk Coastal District Council voted to increase hut rents by 12% and chalets by 20%.

"The bigger the hut, the bigger the increase, so I'm taking 18 inches off the back and that'll save us £200 a year on the ground rate," he said.

The council said it was up to each owner to choose the size of their hut.

The authority charges rent for almost 1,000 plots in Felixstowe. Once a plot is obtained, it is up to tenants to build their own huts.

Mr Sarfas said he and his partner had owned their hut Idle Hours on the seafront for nine years, during which time their rent has more than doubled.

He said the latest rise was the last straw, so the pair decided to spend £250 chopping the back off the hut.

'Very good value'

He said: "Ours [rent] has gone up to nearly £800. If it was only 1% above inflation, none of this would have happened.

"Over the next few years the council will be the losers because we'll save £200 a year that the council's not going to get."

A council spokesman said their beach hut licences were "very good value" and and it "has a duty to charge a fair rate for all its services, so it can help fund its priority services."

He added: "It is up to each hut owner what size their beach hut is. Reducing the size of the hut will also mean that their business rates bill would also reduce, although thanks to the efforts of Suffolk Coastal, virtually all licence holders receive a 100% rebate on their business rates bill so are currently saving between £150 and £300 a year."

Representatives of beach hut owners in the town said they planned to form an association to fight the increase.

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