POLL: Resident calling for a change over beach hut allocations in north Norfolk
A resident from Overstrand is calling for a change in the way local people are placed on beach chalet and hut waiting lists.
Kirstie Pearce, of The Londs, believes that council tax payers in north Norfolk should be given greater priority over the iconic coastal features, rather than the current first-come first-served basis.
The 40-year-old lives with her husband Ian and two children Charlie, 14, and Toby, 10, and recently put their house up for sale to move to Cromer.
Mrs Pearce said: 'Because of where we live we are used to going to the beach quite often and the boys especially like to play on their kayaks and bogie boards. We wanted to have a beach hut on the West Promenade of the town's seafront.'
They contacted North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) who added their names to the bottom of the list and at number 78 they expect a four year wait.
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'That's not too bad and really what I expected,' she said.
'But my argument is if you live in north Norfolk, you should have a bit of a perk for being local. I do think it's a shame when the beach huts are left empty.'
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She felt three out of every four huts should be allocated to locals.
In 2009 NNDC consulted, through a questionnaire, licence holders and people on the waiting list on a variety of beach hut and chalet matters, including the list system. In a bid to cut waiting times NNDC have increased the numbers of sites, and introduced other measures including issuing annual licences only, prompt installation of huts, removing the ability to sub-let, stopping hand-downs and letting weekly chalets out at reduced rates to those on the waiting list for off-peak periods.
And as it stands more than three quarters of chalet and hut site licensees are local to Norfolk.
Sixty five per cent of chalet holders are NNDC residents, with 14pc coming from the rest of Norfolk and 21pc from outside the county.
The hut waiting list is made up of 54pc NNDC residents, 23pc of the rest of Norfolk and 23pc from outside the county.
Mrs Pearce said: 'We still feel that a higher consideration should be made towards tax payers of NNDC over non-residents.
'We are not suggesting that non-residents be completely excluded from the waiting list, as they do generate much needed extra income to the area, but that maybe a higher percentage of any beach huts that become available for permanent rent each year be first made available to NNDC tax payers over non-residents or holiday makers.
'I really want the policy to be discussed again.'
John Lee, NNDC deputy leader and cabinet member for tourism, leisure and cultural services, emphasised that the council realised how important they can be 'for residents and tourists alike.'
He said: 'While it's pleasing that the great majority of the huts and chalets are rented by people who live in Norfolk, we do not think that it would be right to discriminate against those people who come from elsewhere in the country to enjoy our wonderful beaches, and who, of course, make a significant contribution to the local economy while they are here, by making it harder for them to access the facilities.'