Councillors feel misled over reopening of Blyth Beach Huts

Councillors are still angry that not all of Blyth beach huts are available to rent all year round.Councillors are still angry that not all of Blyth beach huts are available to rent all year round.
Councillors are still angry that not all of Blyth beach huts are available to rent all year round.
Blyth’s county councillors have said they feel misled over the reopening of the town’s famous beach huts.

Advance Northumberland, which operates the county’s leisure facilities on behalf of Northumberland County Council, recently revealed the popular beach huts would be reopening for daily rentals, having previously only been available on longer rents during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A campaign by residents and councillors claimed this put the huts out of the reach of most residents due to the substantial costs involved – and Advance subsequently agreed to return the hut rental to pre-pandemic arrangements.

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However, the town’s councillors remain disappointed as people looking to book daily rentals can only do so for six of the 20 huts during June, July and August. The councillors claim the huts should be available to book all year round.

Coun Anna Watson, who represents the Isabella Ward, said: “They were telling us that the huts are only for rental for three months of the year. We don’t understand why it can’t be that all year round.

“The way it came back, we were told it would be back to daily rental, they didn’t make it clear it was only for those months. We only found out after residents got back in touch with us to say that they couldn’t book. It wasn’t made clear.

“The huts are something we’re very proud of in Blyth. We think they should be available all year round.”

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Coun Margaret Richardson, who represents the Cowpen ward, added: “At the time we were told more or less that it was going to be open all year – that it was going back to what it was pre-Covid.

“The children have got an Easter weekend coming up – it should be open longer. Lots of groups book them too, it is just such a shame.

“There are some people who live in this area who cannot afford holidays, and the next best thing is to take the family to the beach. I just hope something can be done.”

The issue was raised by Croft councillor Kath Nisbet at March 30’s full council meeting.

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She said: “I’ve been told by Active Northumberland saying they have only ever done it during June, July and August. We would like to have it extended all year round if it was possible?

“People with disabilities access the huts on a regular occasion. You’ve got Riverside (day care centre) using it, it would be good to have them be able to go down whenever they wanted.”

However, the meeting’s chairman, Coun Barry Flux, claimed Coun Nisbet was making a “statement” as opposed to asking a question, and moved the meeting on without addressing the issue.

A spokeswoman for Active Northumberland said there were no plans to bring the beach huts into use all year round, and that the huts had not been available for daily rental all year round since the days of Blyth Valley Council.

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She added: “Active Northumberland has managed Blyth Beach Huts for the past eight years.

"During this time, five of the huts have been hired out at a daily rent during the summer months of June, July and August.

"The remainder have been booked out on longer term lets.

“We have found this mix of rental options has provided a good balance for local residents and regular visitors, helping to ensure that the huts are fully booked throughout the year, thereby generating a constant income to pay for their upkeep, cleaning and maintenance.”