Debate Magazine

Sandbanks Beach Huts

Posted on the 16 January 2014 by Markwadsworth @Mark_Wadsworth
From the BBC
A council has made more than £5,500 from a beach hut waiting list within a few hours of it opening.

Borough of Poole said 223 people paid £25 to join the waiting list for huts on Dorset's exclusive Sandbanks beach, which reopened on Tuesday.

The council said the non-refundable fee was to make sure that people joining the list genuinely wanted a beach hut.

The authority expects to earn £1,359,000 this year from renting more than 1,000 huts on the borough's coast.

Only residents of Poole are permitted to apply and could still face a two-year wait for a hut, which cost £1,764 a year to lease.

The waiting list, which has been closed for seven years, reopened online at 12:00 GMT but crashed moments later.

By 09:30 GMT on Wednesday, there had been 8,540 views of the booking web page and 355 phone calls to the inquiry line.

A council spokeswoman confirmed that the booking system had "keeled over" and added: "Everybody wanted to register straight away so they can be top of the list."

There are about 150 beach huts in Sandbanks and, before registration reopened, there were already about 80 people remaining on the waiting list.

The spokeswoman added: "The £25 one-off administration fee is applied for a number of reasons. We want the residents of Poole to be able to have the opportunity of a beach hut, we also want people on the waiting list to be clear on their preferences.

"But, fundamentally, it will be used to help with the management of the waiting list which takes a considerable amount of officer time and resource.

"By charging an administration fee, we hope that only those residents who genuinely want a beach hut will be encouraged to sign up to the waiting list."

There are more than 1,000 huts along Poole's coastline, most of which are leased annually, and around 80 more are due to be built.

Borough of Poole council said it had reopened the list because it had "reduced significantly" to 193 applicants across all its seven locations.

Waiting lists for huts in Shore Road, Flaghead, Canford Cliffs, Branksome Chine, Branksome Dene and Hamworthy are due to open in the next six weeks.

Great. Poole Council has made £5K from some booking fees. That'll cover the cost of hundreds of meals on wheels.
But you know,when you've got 8540 people trying to hit your page within minutes of it opening to rent a beachhut on Sandbanks where the cost of houses hit the millions, it might give you a clue that maybe you've underpriced the rent.
I'm pretty sure that if the same thing happened with a Keycamp holiday camp (rather than taking months to sell out), that they would consider pushing the prices up the following year.
Seriously, does anyone actually need to do this any longer? Stick the beach hut rentals on eBay and let people bid on them. You'll quickly discover the market price that people want to pay and they've got the sort of infrastructure that can handle it.
It's what we did with the 3G and 4G auctions. You've got something in limited supply that was created by god/gaia/billions of years of evolution of the universe and is maintained and defended with the help of state spending, so you extract as much money out of people who'd like it and spend it on the people.
 
A plan to reduce the waiting lists by limiting leases to five and 10 years was dropped in 2012 after objections from existing tenants.
Which is another sign that the rental value is too low. If they were priced correctly, people might grumble a little but they'd hardly be that bothered. They'd go and find somewhere else to go instead. These people are rent-seekers, sponging off the state to enjoy things at below the market price.
One of the Troubleshooter programmes had Sir John Harvey Jones visiting Morgan where he asked why they didn't raise the price of their cars, as all it did was to give money to scalpers who took places in the queue, bought the cars and immediately sold them for a profit. And I'd bet all the land values of Sandbanks that some of those people with long leases aren't staying in the huts but making money on the side sub-letting them.
When you start thinking about 1,000 huts, a gain of £5500 is pissing in the sea compared to what they could be making.

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