A plan to increase fees and levies on beach hut owners has been shelved by the council after sparking outrage.
Proposals set forth in Brighton and Hove City Council would see transfer fees paid by owners when they sell their huts jump by around 3,000 per cent from a flat rate of £82 to ten per cent of the total sale price – which can cost people thousands of pounds.
However, the planned meeting was postponed hours before it was due to be discussed by councillors.
While the council says it needs further consultation, an email seen by The Argus to members of the tourism, equality, communities and culture committee said “external legal advice in relation to beach huts … means , that we will not be able to offer proposals at this time.”
Councilor Robert Nemeth, founder of the Hove Beach Hut Association, called the sales tax plans “immoral and unfair” and welcomed the decision to shelve the proposals.
He said: “Threatening non-compliance to terminate their contract is an example of eviction retaliation and is highly questionable from a legal point of view.
“I would like to urge the hut owners who are deciding how to vote in May to oppose this kind of taxation based on jealousy.
“It won’t come back until after the election if they don’t.”
Beach huts typically sell for between £29,000 and £36,500, meaning owners could be forced to pay administration fees of up to £3,650 under the proposals.
Conservative tourism, equalities, communities and culture spokesman Samer Baghain said he was pleased the “stealth tax” on beach hut owners had been scrapped pending legal advice.
He said the council’s plans were based on beach hut owners who were not consulted.
Cllr Bagaeen said: “Beach hut owners are angry with the council and rightly so. There was no consultation or discussion on the part of the council, which tried to skip this measure.
“The council is now targeting others to make up for its appalling financial management and the budget black hole it has created as a result of this year’s catastrophic overspend.
“The high cost of contractors brought in to cover the costs of the council’s disastrous weeding, public toilet and housing repair policies is now starting to show.
“I am pleased that our legal challenge has been successful and the proposal has been withdrawn from today’s meeting.”
A council spokesman said: “We have deferred consideration of a possible new charge for beach huts in order to carry out further public consultation.
“Our intention is to report back to our next Tourism, Equality, Communities and Culture meeting following this consultation.”