OPINION

Spiteful transfer tax will hand beach huts to the rich

Posted On 11 Jan 2023 at 10:22 pm

Brighton and Hove City Council has proposed a 5 per cent increase in the beach hut licence fee and a 10 per cent transfer tax.

The proposed transfer tax equates to an approximate 3,000 per cent increase on the current transfer fee of £82.

A decision is due to be made at the council’s Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee meeting at Hove Town Hall today (Thursday 12 January).

I – and the majority of beach hut owners I know – oppose this on the following grounds.

1) There has been no consultation with the individual beach hut owners or the Hove Beach Hut Association of which I am a member. This is especially relevant as our contract with the council will have to change if the proposed changes are to be effected. This in turn will require agreement from the beach hut owners. Most if not all will disagree.

2) This proposal is arguably illegal. Any forced change of contract on beach hut owners would be coercion and bullying of which the worst kind of landlord should be ashamed. Is this beyond the powers of the council? Arguing this point would probably lead to protracted legal battles which I (and others) would be prepared to support.

3) There is no economic argument for this proposal. The amount raised by the new fee (say 10 huts sold in a year = £30,000) would hardly cover the costs of implementing and administering the scheme. Legal expenses incurred by the council in forcing this proposal on unwilling voters would only add to this cost.

4) There is no moral argument for this proposal. It seems, specifically with the transfer tax proposal, that the council is happy to force other people to give them money against their will – which I see as akin to a form of extortion – yet in return give nothing back. We already pay a licence fee for what? Closed toilets? Vandalism and graffiti blighting the seafront? Unenforced by-laws with cyclists carving at high speed through children and older people on the promenade?

5) This proposal is unfair. A transfer fee to cover admin is reasonable but a 3,000 per cent increase is indefensible.

6) This proposal is unaffordable to many. Beach hut owners already pay increasing costs simply to maintain and insure their huts, regardless of the annual above-inflation increases in the licence fee. We face a cost of living crisis too!

7) This proposal victimises generations of Brighton and Hove residents. Owners of the huts are from all backgrounds with huts being passed down through the generations. When a hut owner dies, will their heir be able to afford to keep their hut once they are forced to pay this indefensible and iniquitous tax? And if not, who, they may justly ask, forced this circumstance upon them?

8) This proposal damages our community. One of the strengths of the beach hut community is we come from all walks of life. Yes, some people with beach huts have paid high prices recently for their hut and are perhaps better off than others. But they are few. Do you want only the rich to be able to afford these huts? What of those of us who live in flats, who have no gardens, or who have made other choices in their lives so they can enjoy a few hours a week in their huts by the sea? Perpetual increases of the licence fee and new taxes will make the huts unaffordable to buy and maintain by all but the few.

9) This proposal hurts those who help others. Beach hut owners – especially through the Association – are highly public spirited individuals and families and regularly put on events – such as the “Winter Open Day” this Christmas – that are enjoyed by everyone who can access the seafront. They also raise money for charities.

10) This seems to be a spiteful and politically motivated proposal. I recall this change was tried four years ago but wisely withdrawn. Who among you, specifically, is promoting this divisive proposal this time? Surely you must see the lasting damage this proposal will cause? This is not a “vote winner” for you. Please, reconsider.

Gerard Phillips is a member of Hove Beach Hut Association.

  1. Chris Reply

    More evidence that the greens hate anything that is not a bus or bike. Your good fortune in having a beach hut lease is seen as elitist and privileged therefore exploitable and punishable.
    The sooner they are consigned to the history books the better

    • Helen Reply

      Chris
      Sorry, I don’t agree, BHCC hate Buses too.

  2. bradly23 Reply

    the vile green party, in cahoots with the labour shits, will drive a coach and horses thru the contract. The corrupt technocratic officers will implement it with glee.

  3. Robert Pattinson Reply

    I live opposite a row of beach huts lots of them are never used. Its a shame people hang onto them.

  4. Gareth Reply

    Beach huts that can sell for more than £40k currently have a fee of £82. In property terms this is a tiny amount. I dont blame the council for trying to claw back some of the profits being made on their sale.

    • Helen Reply

      Gareth
      Do you own your own home, would you be happy giving some of the sale money to the council ?

  5. bradly23 Reply

    A shill, also called a plant or a stooge, is a person who publicly helps or gives credibility to a person or organization without disclosing that they have a close relationship with said person or organization. A shill may also act to discredit opponents or critics of the person or organization in which they have a vested interests.
    i note the “proposal” has been deferred.

  6. Jessica Reply

    Stand as a councillor. We need more independent councillors that listen to residents and work for residents.

    • fed-up with brighton politics Reply

      As I’ve said many times on this website, in one form or another, council officers propose ‘ideas/initiatives’ etc for cuts, often paltry and damaging in the overall scale of wasted expenditure,and the ‘ruling’ political administration either goes along with it or someone requests a further report, which is rarely forthcoming in timely fashion, if at all, and, even when a report does appear, it just repeats the original mantra and the administration, with unofficial allies, accepts it meekly. What is needed here is twofold – a major clear-out of council employees steeped in local government ‘culture’, who churn out long, wordy and very boring reports, accompanied by incomprehensible charts – no real initiative and, frankly, the cery worst of dinosaur civil service mentalities. The thinking, if any, is often done in a vacuum, taking no account whatsoever of other, and conflicting, issues. Never joined-up thinking is the phrase that springs to mind.

      Secondly, party political councillors, of whichever hue, do not generally challenge in robust fashion the reports they get from officers. If they dare to challenge at all, they call for yet another report, which takes forever, if it materialises, and comes to the same conclusion as before.

      What is needed – and this isn’t even schoolchild rocket science – is officers who know something about the real world as it affects the taxpayers who fund them and who have some practical ideas for sorting the quagmire this city is in (i.e. not having tunnel vision on the particular subject they are employed for and getting together with colleagues across all subjects to come up with ideas).

      We also require intelligent councillors who do not follow a particular political dogma to the detriment of the people who fund the fiasco that we have had for some time. Intelligent councillors who understand the wider picture, want to sort the issues and have relevant apolitical experience of how this might be done, which is not a talent/feature of many of the current crop. Sling them out in May and elect people who might actually have some idea of what it’s like to be under the cosh of the political parties in alleged control of the City.

  7. Richi Reply

    I find it interesting that the writer says that this would hand the beach huts to the rich. The fact that the huts change hands for ca. £20k would suggest that this is already the case.

  8. Theo Reply

    “We face a cost of living crisis too!”

    You own a 40-50k shed on seafront, you are doing just fine

    – back on subject the proposal is laughable, 3,000% increase is insane, but typical green council trying to rake in more money for it’s failed projects

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