BARRY Island’s beach huts lost money in their first year because of low bookings – and the council has been criticised for failing to market them properly.
The 24 colourful huts on the eastern promenade at Whitmore Bay made a loss of £215 between February 2015-16.
So far, 233 beach hut bookings have been made since Easter 2015, bringing in £8,026. But this has not matched the £8,241 operation fees.
The most popular month was August 2015 with 136 hires but November 2015 or February 2016 had no hires at all.
The Vale of Glamorgan Council is looking at new ways to operate the huts. They have considered selling them to a private operator, who might be able to market the huts more efficiently and enable more visitors to enjoy them.
Steffan William, councillor for the Baruc ward, said: “There needs to be a proper business plan for the beach huts. We have to make it as easy as possible for people to book and gain access to the huts.”
Members of the public can hire a small or large beach hut for a maximum of one week in any given month.
During the summer season between the first Saturday of the School Easter holidays and the last Sunday of the Autumn half term school holidays, the huts are available between 10am and 8pm. Large huts, which include electricity sockets and have access to running water, cost £40 per day and the smaller huts cost £20.
In the winter season, the larger huts are available for £30 and the smaller huts for £15 per day.
Cllr William said: “The beach huts should have proper facilities – light, electricity and water – that people expect when they go to a holiday resort. I would hope that Barry Island would soon have free wi-fi so that holiday-makers can have internet access as well.”
The beach huts were introduced as part of the Welsh Government £2.9m regeneration scheme at Barry Island and have quickly become symbolic of the area.
Cllr Nic Hodges said: “The beach huts are a clearly iconic part of Barry Island, well photographed and seen all over social media, but I worry that we have missed the opportunity and novelty of the beach huts to reach new audiences and bring them to Barry Island.
“Public economic regeneration money was invested in the beach huts and we have to show that it was well used. So far, it hasn’t been – as the bookings show.