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Herne Bay estate agent fears Canterbury City Council beach huts will be blighted by thugs

An estate agent fears a row of new beach huts along an isolated seaside stretch will soon be caked in graffiti or torched by yobs.

Canterbury City Council has begun groundwork on the first of 84 of the structures earmarked for East Cliff promenade in Herne Bay, as it looks to use the profits to bolster its Covid-hit coffers.

But Peter Goodwin, who heads town estate agency Wilbee and Son, believes they will be a prime target for hooligans who have already painted tags nearby.

The manager of the business says their secluded location – about half-a-mile from the Bay's main seafront drag – will make them impossible to police.

“They’ll never be able to monitor the huts. Somebody (at the council) clearly isn’t doing their homework,” said Mr Goodwin, whose firm markets huts in the area.

“I just wonder how long it’s going to be before yobs cover them in graffiti or set light to them because they can’t possibly be monitored in the winter.

“When you look at the sea walls there, they’re just plastered in graffiti. It’s obviously a haven for vandalism.”

Last month, arsonists razed a beach hut to the ground and damaged two others in an attack on Whitstable's West Beach, which is being probed by detectives.

Meanwhile, hundreds of pounds of damage was caused by thugs to two Victorian-style shelters in Central Parade, prompting calls for the structures to be removed completely.

Mr Goodwin – a member of the Herne Bay Town Partners, which helps clean tags off the side of buildings – thinks the area’s graffiti problem is “worse than ever”.

“I don’t think the council will struggle to shift the huts; I just wonder how people are going to maintain them because vandals can’t leave anything alone at the moment,” he added.

“They're in an isolated area – in winter it’s very dark and dismal down there.

Mr Goodwin says the area's graffiti problem is "worse than ever"
Mr Goodwin says the area's graffiti problem is "worse than ever"

“When you look at what the vandals have done to the shelters on the seafront, in full view of residents, what will they do to these huts? In Whitstable recently, one was torched.”

Before the plans to build the 84 huts were given the green light, police chiefs urged the city council to install high-end padlocks, galvanised sheeting, security bars and, in some instances, alarms in the structures.

While making these recommendations, officers noted the shacks “can attract crime, anti-social behaviour, nuisance and conflict”, especially during the night.

However, council spokesman Rob Davies told KentOnline: “All of the concerns Mr Goodwin raises were fully considered during the planning process.

"Judging by the interest the new huts have gained, it's safe to say many people would like to own one.

Where the huts are planned to go in Herne Bay
Where the huts are planned to go in Herne Bay

“We are pleased to be progressing this project and helping some to realise this ambition."

The council has already completed and sold 10 huts in Hampton. It expects to recoup £1.5 million all together from them and the 84 further along the coast.

Last year, Mr Davies revealed that more than 1,000 people had expressed an interest in snapping up the huts.

Cllr Andrew Cook, who also chairs the town’s hut owners’ association, says the newly built shacks in Hampton were bought in 10 days.

"The ones in and around Hampton were selling for about £30,000," the Conservative noted.

"I thought having that many going on the market at once was going to upset the value of the huts, but blow me down backwards, they all sold just like that."

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