Standing on the pavement, sandwiched between the glinting sea and the ocean of colour that makes up the beach houses, I am reminded why I love the vibrant city of Brighton. On a day like today, where the sun is shining down on us like it knows we need to smile, people are everywhere basking in the heat. However, if you look very closely you will see the immaculacy of the city isn’t everything it’s made out to be and the people in charge do not care so much about their seaside. Although in one direction the coast looks idyllic, in the other direction, what could be a pleasant view is almost an eyesore. Scattered in between those who survived the attack of the storms are gaping holes where rubble and dirt have stolen the identity of the huts.
On a day like today where the seaside basks in sunshine and the outlook of every situation once dismal now seems far away, there are a few people scattered around making use of their ‘investment’. One affluently retired couple, sitting on deckchairs and reading magazines in woolly hats who ‘only got back from Cuba two days ago’, prove no matter where you’ve just come from or where you’re heading next, Brighton seafront is still wonderful. However those who returned to where once stood a painted wooden hut, in a summery egg-blue shade of green to find a crumbled mess of sticks and stones are going to have to fork out insurance premiums in order to continue using their beach-side hut.
But what is actually being done to get these huts fixed, so our views can be restored? Well firstly every single beach hut owner in Brighton and Hove has to comply to certain council restrictions and limitations. One of these is that you must have a beach hut on your plot at all times and failure to do so will result in a £4000 fine. After the mess left debris everywhere, the council sent out contractors to clear up the beach and whilst doing this, they offered to clean out the spaces that the beach huts once resumed. This, one less thing for the owners to worry about, may actually have just been a means of encouragement with a subtle hint, to get the rebuilds done faster.
Robin and Jenny Wakelin, a couple who don’t live in Brighton count their beach hut as an investment as they ‘get a lot of pleasure out of it’. They came down on Boxing Day and were ‘shocked at the mess’ that was strewn across the promenade. Looking after their grandson, they use the beach huts for sheltering him from chilly breezes, for making cups of tea and for having a place they can call their own in this seaside town. The couple are under the impression that people are hugely profiting from the catastrophic storms as contractors have been slipping leaflets and flyers under their door. They believe that the local building companies are probably rubbing their hands together at this god-given opportunity to make a huge amount of profit at the expense of someone else’s misfortune. Proving this point, Amanda Ogilvie, another beach hut owner said that apart from a quote from a builder when they first moved in, ‘The only other approach from an insurer was after the recent storm’.
Two contractors, hiding behind a black pick-up-truck, are standing awkwardly on the roof hammering wooden panels into the structure which has already been painted the signature green. Thursday now, they’ve ‘been doing it since Monday’ proving that the turn-around is in fact very fast and efficient and the profit margin is therefore presumably pretty large. Although the council are overseeing the massive project, they still insist that every beach hut owner is responsible for funding and over seeing their own rebuild. A council Spokesperson said ‘We are currently working alongside the owners to help clear debris, carry out any repairs to the seafront walls and ensure the huts are returned to their original positions.’ However those residents who failed to get insurance will find themselves either beach hut-less or having to dig deep into their pockets for any spare money they may have lieing around.
Essentially Brighton was completely rocked along its coast, as a result of extreme weather conditions. The effect the smashing storm had on Brighton is quite clear to anyone who regularly visits the city. Those vistors and residents though, do not consider the immediate effects of how it has impacted individuals. It would seem plausible, perhaps even obvious that the council should take some kind of responsibility for clearing up the chaos, because surely it would come under part of their budget. But no, it is left to the owners and their expensive insurance premiums to remedy the coastline, whilst the outer sit and community complain about the ruined views.