A group of cabin owners in Middleton, Hartlepool are at risk of losing their community after 70 years, as Hartlepool Borough Council says it can no longer afford to subsidise the lease.
The Middleton Cabins have been serving the community since the 1950s and in 2009 they were located on Ferry Road.
Last year, the owners were given a stay of execution to try and find alternative funding to plug the gap usually covered by the council as part of the lease with landowners, PD Ports.
The Middleton cabins are used as a hub by 36 cabin owners, who like to socialise and do hobbies like shellfishing and woodwork.
The cabin owners say if they go, the only thing left of Middleton Village will be the Hartlepool Smallcrafts Association founded by the cabin owners in 1968.
Director of Middleton Cabin Owners Ltd, Ron Clark, told ITV News the 36 cabins are a life line for the owners and that it provides a community for the group of men.
You’ve heard the expression “Old man’s sheds”, well that’s exactly what we are. We’re a load of old codgers, average age, I think is well into the sixties now and we potter around here, have a cup of tea in the morning with somebody, before you open up your cabin and then in the afternoon you might have a can of beer and it’s just a place to mix.
Hartlepool Borough Council told ITV News the council can no longer afford the £10,000 rent subsidy and the cabin owners have been given until 23 April to clear the site.
The Council has for a number of years taken a head lease from the site owners PD Ports and then subsequently leased the site to Middleton Cabin Owners Ltd (MCOL) at a significantly subsidised rate, at cost to the Council. In the present financial climate and with difficult decisions needing to be made on Council funding priorities, it was considered that this could unfortunately no longer continue. The Council is aware of ongoing discussions between MCOL and other parties including the site owners PD Ports with a view to MCOL continuing to occupy the site. As previously said, the Council cannot continue to take a head lease, however if PD Ports wants to deal directly with MCOL then the Council would support this approach. If no independent agreement is reached between MCOL and PD Ports, then unfortunately the Council will have no option but to continue working with the cabin owners to aid the removal of the cabins ready for the lease ending in April.
PD Ports said it is not party to any arrangement that the council has with the cabin owners or any discussions regarding Local Authority subsidies for community or leisure type activities.
A spokesperson for the company said:
These are matters for the Council rather than the operator of a commercial port. If the Council would like to enter into a new agreement, we are happy to discuss.