A BEACH hut owner has blasted the city council over a planned hike in charges.

Linda Malcolm, 69, of Wilbury Avenue, Hove, is outraged by the planned increases despite what she thinks is a decline in services for hut users.

The annual licence fee paid by owners to the council is set to rise by £36.80 to £404 per year, along with a dramatic rise in selling-on fees by over £1,130 or ten percent of the sale price.

Ms Malcolm said: “Personally, I would not have a problem paying more for my licence fee if I felt current standards were going to be maintained but don’t believe this will be the case.

“Standards of seafront care have deteriorated hugely in the time we have owned a hut and I strongly suspect they will continue to do so.

“I don’t mind continuing to pay at the current rate because I understand about government cuts and austerity.

“However, I do not accept that fees should be increased while the service declines.

“As for paying a percentage to the council if I sell my hut, I think this is ridiculous.

“The council provides me with a very poor service and as word gets around about the declining facilities I imagine the huts will become virtually unsellable anyway.”

Ms Malcolm, who has owned a hut on the Western Esplanade near Hove Bowling Green for more than ten year with her sister Barbara, said the hut was indispensable and a way to relax when she is not caring for her mother.

She told of a toilet block by the hut, which is often “filthy” and has had its summer opening hours reduced, forcing her to clean up excrement left behind the huts.

She also told of the tap for hut owners often being out of service and overgrown and neglected plant beds.

Under current proposals, when a hut is sold sellers must pay £82 transfer fee but this is set to rise to £1,212 or ten percent of the sale price, whichever is highest.

But with huts sold this year ranging from £16,000 to £22,500, and one currently on the market for £25,000, sellers’ transfer fees could rise as high as £2,500.

The “declining services” are stark contrast to the list of rules hut owners must follow by including, carrying out necessary repairs and insuring it, Ms Malcolm added.

A Brighton and Hove City Council spokeswoman said: “The proposal is for the council to have a more realistic share in the profit when beach huts are sold, in line with other councils.

“Any additional income would assist with the on-going management of the seafront.”

The council was debating the issue last night.