Hartlepool cabin owners' uncertain future over lease worries
A community of cabin owners in Hartlepool are facing an uncertain future after a decision by council chiefs to terminate their lease.
The Middleton Cabins originated in the 1950s and have occupied their current site since 2009.
But Hartlepool Borough Council, which leases the land from owners PD Ports, is set to terminate the arrangement with the cabin owners a year early this coming February due to budget pressures.
It says it can no longer afford a £10,000 subsidy and coincides with a £3,000 rent increase.
The cabins were originally used by owners to store fishing and boating equipment but over the years have become more of a social community, said cabin owner Ron Clark.
He said: “This community of like-minded people is in danger of closure after more than 70 years.
“The council are saying to me ‘we will not enter into a new lease’.”
Mr Clark said they could apply for grants to meet the additional costs but it is useless without the guarantee of a site.
A council spokesman said: “The Council always has and will continue to support local community groups wherever possible.
“We previously enabled the Middleton cabin owners to remain on their current site by agreeing to lease the land from PD Ports at a market rate rent and then charge the cabin owners a subsidised rent.
“However, severe budget pressures and an increase in rent now proposed by PD Ports mean that we cannot continue with the financial subsidy going forward, and we are unable to extend the lease with PD Ports beyond February 2018 when the rent increase is due to be implemented.”
The council says it has been working closely with the cabin owners to try to help them including expertise with submitting charitable funding bids, and identifying alternative council-owned sites.
PD Ports said the rent was agreed with the council after last being reviewed in 2014 and reflects market value for the land.
A spokesman said: “The rent is not due for review again until April 2019 when the current lease is due to come to an end.
“The Council has recently advised it wishes to terminate the lease early and will be arranging for the site to be cleared and handed back in February 2018.
“If the Council requires more time to relocate its cabin owners to a suitable alternative location, we have no objection to the Council continuing to occupy our land until at least the expiry date of the lease in April 2019.”