OWNERS of West Mersea’s famous beach huts claim they’re being forced out by a holiday park firm.

Residents say Park Holidays UK have begun a campaign to force them to relinquish their huts at West Mersea Holiday Park so they can be sold at inflated prices.

Edward Osborn and his family have owned one of the huts for more than seven years.

He said: “We were all sent emails by management suggesting our huts would soon be worthless and we would be best to sell them now while there was still some value left.

“We, like many, have 12 years left to run on our licences.

“When we bought the hut under the old site owners, we and others were told the hut would move to a rolling annual licence, like the council huts further along the coast.

“We thought the value in our huts was safe. Many bought them with the expectation that they would hand them on to children and grandchildren.”

This week Park sent a letter to some hut owners, who lease the beach on which they sit, saying they must tidy their huts or be forced to sell.

Mr Osborn said some recipients had just spent thousands and described the letter as “aggressive, poorly written and insensitive”.

“Some of them have been shielding and suffered bereavement. This is the last thing they need. Their huts are not eyesores – they are well-maintained, well-presented and much loved family huts,” he said.

“This is simply a fishing expedition by Park Holidays which exploits a clause in some of the licences to intimidate people into selling their much loved huts so that they can sell them on for hugely inflated prices.”

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A spokesman for Park Holidays UK said licensees were advised there was no provision to extend their 25 year licence but they were able to repurchase them without joining the waiting list.

He added: “The letter recipients were leaseholders whose beach huts had been personally inspected and identified as being in need of remedial work or repainting in order to conform with required standards. One letter was sent in error, for which we apologise.

“We are sorry if some licensees regarded the wording of the letter as insensitive. However, we were obliged to point out that in accordance with the park rules to which leaseholders had agreed, a 28 day period was allowed for problems to be rectified before any further action was taken.”

“Our concern was simply to make licensees fully aware of their position without any risk of ambiguity.”