The Vale of Glamorgan Council's brand new Barry Beach Huts - unused for 96% of the time

The Vale of Glamorgan Council’s brand new Barry Beach Huts – unused for 96% of the time

The much-trumpeted new beach-huts – specially provided at Barry Island as part of a £3,000,000 Welsh Labour Government regeneration scheme – are losing money for the Vale of Glamorgan Council .

The latest financial report shows that hire-bookings have been so low (only 233 bookings over an entire season)  the annual income derived from renting out the huts doesn’t even cover the costs involved in maintaining them.

The larger huts were available to rent at £30 a day and the smaller ones for £15 a day with spring/summer rates being £40 a day and £20 a day respectively. Soon the council had to amend its rates and allow pro-rata half-day hire to try to boost the take-up.

During one period , so slack was the demand for the huts  that the Vale ‘cabinet’ member for regeneration, Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines),  was letting them out free of charge:-

Cllr Lis Burnett asked people to use the new beach huts free of charge.

The huts have also suffered from vandalism . Shortly before Christmas 2014 , and less than two weeks after building work was completed, vandals unscrewed the door-numbers on 21 of the 24 huts . A few weeks later the locks were ripped off all 24 huts. Even though the beach huts are intended to provide privacy for families with children,  the Vale of Glamorgan Council said it would be “installing CCTV cameras in the area very soon.”

The weather hasn't helped hut-hirings - but it seems there's something fundamentally wrong with the Vale Council's business assumptions

The weather hasn’t exactly helped hut-hirings – but it seems there’s something fundamentally wrong with the Vale Council’s basic business assumptions

The huts were part of a £3,000,000 Welsh Labour Government-funded regeneration scheme at Barry Island – but it appears no one did any market-research and the huts were built before the Labour-run Vale Council had any clear idea as to what to do with them.

Cllr Burnett said at the time  “This is a new venture for the Council and it is intended that the beach huts will be hired to members of the public on a daily basis for the vast majority of the time. … As the beach huts are being used for the benefit of local residents and visitors to Barry we want to receive ideas from the public.”

In the event, demand from the public was patchy  – and the huts weren’t hired out for anything like ” the vast majority of the time” . The Vale Council’s report says the 24 huts were available to rent from Easter 2015 to February 10th 2016. Out of a possible 7,512 rental days available (313 days X 24 huts) the council says that a total of only 233 bookings were made over the entire period. That’s an occupancy rate of less that 4%.

That slim number of bookings generated only £8,026 of revenue – less than the annual amount of council-tax payers’ money that is required to maintain the huts each year.

The council is now to examine “options” – including that of persuading a private enterprise operator to take them on –  and operate them as a seafront concession .

Andrew R T Davies in the Welsh Assembly

Andrew R T Davies in the Welsh Assembly

Penarth Conservative AM Andrew R T Davies said the beach huts were a “white elephant of an investment”.

He said “The idea these huts would generate vast income to benefit the Island – acting as some sort of silver bullet – has been proved simply incorrect, as many local businesses predicted at the time.

Davies that rather than focussing on what he calls “their pet-projects“, the Labour-run Vale of Glamorgan Council “would be better placed in focussing and communicating with local businesses on the island to ensure a vibrant long-term future is delivered for Barry Island.”

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  1. Mari Jones says:

    They should hire them out to small businesses – craft stalls etc on a weekly basis like the ones in the Hayes. But it’ll probably only generate interest in the summer.

    • CelticMan says:

      They were supposed to last summer. We contacted VoG by phone and email on several occasions to try and rent one but they never responded. What a surprise!

  2. Christopher David says:

    Worth a try Mari Jones. Bet they aren’t marketing them well. Probably have to hand them over to private enterprise eventually. Someone should put post it note instruction for hire on the doors for Liz Burnett

  3. Tony says:

    I am not a fan of the “global warming brigade” but the weather is changing-I recall in the early 2000s visiting the Island around 10 summer Sundays, with almost perfect weather-recently the week-end weather has been so awful that my visits have declined to 2 or 3 days per year-the Bay has changed things in that you do not need perfect weather for a pleasant day out but the Island is a grim place in poor weather-all respect to fairground owner Henry Danter for trying to liven things up.

  4. Kevin Mahoney says:

    Can’t say that I’d fork out £40 / £20 a day for one of these, the only attraction that I can see is for somewhere to dump a families valuables and other bits and pieces whilst on the beach or the pleasure park without having to keep going back to the car during the day.

    Perhaps they should consult those who did hire the chalets to see exactly their reasons for doing so and promote those reasons in advertising etc

  5. Teresa Mitchell says:

    In Whitstable where I lived in the 1980s the beach huts were privately owned and very well used. Now they are worth a small fortune but in those days they probably went for one or two thousand pounds…

  6. snoggerdog says:

    syrian refugees maybe—–?

  7. Concerned Citizen says:

    It seems to me that they are in the wrong place anyway. Too far along the beach to be noticed by non local visitors?

  8. The Tax payer says:

    I’m shocked. The council trying to make money. They just don’t understand but Hay they are not Playing with there own money so it’s just a game at the end of the day for them to play 😰

  9. Louise says:

    Well, I’m not surprised. The Vale is useless at marketing. Last year a colleague and I wanted to rent one or two huts as part of the local small business initiative that the Vale waxed lyrical about on its website. But despite numerous emails and phone calls on my part no one got back to me and we went elsewhere. The beach huts are wonderful and marketing them would be so easy to do in such a great location. Shame on the Vale for being so apathetic.

  10. Christopher David says:

    I’m not surprised. In the dealings I’ve had with them by and large they have been arrogant, lazy and inefficient. The problem is we can’t vote out these super paid managers. Once their in their in. We’re saddled with some 3rd rate spongers that wouldn’t hold a job in the private sector. If the VOG was a business it would go bust. Sad- what can we do? Unaccountable.

  11. Vale Resident says:

    Install CCTV that’s rich considering this council
    Have abandoned their CCTV offices and merged with Bridgend in cost cutting exercise. So no one will monitor the CCTV on the huts just like the rest of Barry. This will only be
    Monitored by the Barry member of staff who is re deploying to Bridgend when that person is working. The rest of the time the Vale CCTV won’t me monitored. Shame on the council as the CCTV is an invaluable tool to protect the citizens of the vale. They have the audacity to ask for a 3.9% increase in council tax.

  12. Christopher David says:

    Oh contraire- Liz Burnet is a whiz with CCTV. In fact give her a full time job on it. Just put a post it note request on a lamppost- Liz will pick it up in camera.

  13. Rosemary Johnson says:

    My Husband and myself would hire one of these huts they should be marketed more!

  14. Chrissy says:

    It is unreasonably difficult to hire on the day, most of my family’s trips to Barry Island are impromptu on good weather days. Initially there was no option for part day hire. Even the 1/2 day hire I now believe is available is too long a minimum period, considering with young children we tend to only stay for a few hours.

    I believe there should be an onsite, on the day, hiring available.
    Hire should be available in 3 hour blocks.
    Commercial use restriction should be relaxed (but with varied charges), but keeping a restriction on vending. e.g. allow use by pre-school nurseries, schools etc.

  15. Christopher David says:

    They’re losing money now because they don’t have a clue on sales and marketing. To pay for onsite staff is just not fiscally feasible until they can create big demand. Tax payer would lose more money.
    I do think however a half day minimum hire is perfectly fair. All has to be equitable. Maybe they should contract sales out! But this is sieg heil Labour.

Comments are closed.