With the ongoing discusions about the bad effects of second homes and holiday lets/airbnbs on communities in tourist areas, such as N Wales and the Lake District, how should we view mountaineering club huts? Are they, from the local community's point of view, any different from holiday lets or airbnbs and, therefore helping to deny affordable homes to local residents?
As far a the economy is concerned, they are treated as a business premises, therefore pay no Business rates due to Small Business rate relief, nor Council Tax as they are a Business premises. During the Pandemic most/ many clubs with huts have benefited from circa £14000 of pandemic aid, per hut, not totally sure how much, but its a £10K initial grant, then a couple of grand per lockdown.
In my opinion a hut is the holiday home of a group of generally well resourced people, who like having a nice gaff in the country they can use for £5 to £10 a night, and if hut fees are not covering it, they might tolerate outside groups, but they try and keep it to people like themselves.
EDIT. If you or anyone are in a club, and it has a hut, has it been clearly signalled to you how much the club has benefited, and if not, ask the Committee. The committees are only doing their duty, if you don't know, it is your fault for failing to keep an eye on them, the blame, if any, lies with the membership, not the committees.
No because they are very rarely converted from an existing dwelling and have therefore not reduced the local housing stock. Additionally, they are rarely in practical locations or configurations for a normal
Most club huts have been club huts since long before second homes became a problem - often converted from disused buildings years ago. This differs from the current problem of typical first time buyer and family type houses being bought up and used for short term lets.
The cost to stay in a hut also keeps outdoor spaces accessible to most people, rather than just those that can afford the aforementioned short term lets.
I know our club hut would be wholly unsuitable as a family home. You can't even drive to it to start with
How many club huts are there in total in the UK? I imagine you could trawl the BMC data and club websites to find out. I would guess it's not a lot more than 100?
Not really a problem in the grand scheme of things is it.
I'd have thought that a busy hut would put much more money (notwithstanding the council tax and business rates point) directly into the local economy. 20 or 30 hungry climbers going for a meal and a few pints at the local, having already been to the climbing shop, is a fair amount of spend.
I can't think of all that many huts I would want to try to convert into my home.
You don't hear many people accusing the YHA of buying up all the housing stock and pricing out the locals. In terms of houses removed from local stock per good-kind-of-visitor, is there anything better than a club hut?
Check facts on business rates; pretty sure what Steve said ceases to apply once a club owns more than one hut, in England at least. And if you still think they're getting a free ride, try arranging for the bin men to visit.
you could argue it's future, environmentally friendly ourdoor access. most clubs are regionally, they lift share, they heat one building only when it's needed, cook communally etc.
Far better than individuals travelling to their own B&B. most club huts are pretty basic, below youth hostel standards.
The problem is clubs some how aren't cool, they are the perfect entry level route to cheap and safe mountaineering.
> I'd have thought that a busy hut would put much more money (notwithstanding the council tax and business rates point) directly into the local economy. 20 or 30 hungry climbers going for a meal and a few pints at the local, having already been to the climbing shop, is a fair amount of spend.
Depend on the climbers. I can still recall four people brewing up in the back of their brand new car in the car park of the cafe near Shepherds Crag because they 'couldn't afford the cafe'...
I think you have a very valid point. We have two or three holiday lets (as opposed to holiday homes) in the nearby village. They keep the pub going, unlike the vast majority of the villagers.
Holiday homes are a different beast. Although air bnbs and holiday lets remove housing stock, they do have a positive input into the local economy. The vast majority of holiday home owners rock up with a boot full of stuff from Sainsbury's and don't use local shops or pubs.
Climbing huts are different again. They're probably the best of both worlds. They tend not to be buildings suitable for local occupancy, plus some money into the local economy from the users.
> The problem is clubs some how aren't cool, they are the perfect entry level route to cheap and safe mountaineering.
I think it's more a case that some people are natural 'joiners', whilst others are more insular and don't fancy meeting up with a bunch of strangers.
It took me two years to join my local running club, and that involved Mrs Ridge prodding me into it.
Totally agree, its just I don't think they should take taxpayers money and stash it in the bank along with the rest of their money, and if they do fall short, ask the members for £50 each.
You are quite welcome to raise this discussion at the AGM of our shared club in a few weeks Steve.
I was on 2 committees at the start of the first lockdown and have only seen objections from a very small minority of members to them accepting that support.
I’d say they are fundamentally different. Ours huts have been mountaineering huts for over 50 & 60 years. We have two and rent out alternate ones each week on external bookings to generate funds to keep them in decent condition. There is no profit as such, any surplus goes into improvements which recently have been related to insulation, heating control & energy efficiency. We also donate significant amounts to the local MR teams. The hut has ‘value’ but it’s bound by our rules that individuals can’t profit in any way. In the event the club dissolves, the huts are sold and proceeds go to MR. Each hut brings 10-25 external people from afar within range of local pubs and close to the shops of Ambleside & Keswick every weekend. The other hut will be in use by our members. They don’t shop at Cotswold, they shop at needlesports. Annual dinner in the lakes, local hotel meal, 50+ people, some in rooms too. There’s not loads of parking and by default it forces folks to car share. We try wherever possible to employ local tradesmen to maintain the huts. We try to stay in tune with local residents & farmers and support any local campaigns where appropriate. Unfortunately, we are seeing changes around us. The local pubs in the key climbing valleys would traditionally welcome a dozen folks off the hill for hours of drinking prior to staggering back to the hut. It’s now more lucrative to welcome a few holiday home Range Rovers & Audi SUVs for high end meals & bottles of wine, undisturbed by the riff raff and closing at 10pm to save a couple of staff hrs at minimum wage. I just hope beyond hope that the real traditional climbing pubs (ODG etc.) keep the atmosphere, even if they can’t hold the prices.
As for the club comms, we have accounts independently audited and distributed to the full membership at the AGM. Major expenditure and ‘investments’ (I.e improvements) are subject to AGM approval. We have 150 members.
One of our huts was purchased in 1956 from the local housing association because it wasn’t fit for conversion/use by low income families at the time. Money better spent in local towns where there was employment. We built the other one ourselves in 1970. Both would make amazing holiday homes, sleeping 4 instead of 16 or 26, but not much use as local housing.
I will be in Spain climbing and its not just one club, I was in three clubs when the grants were given out, and they all have taken the money, so dont think I am speaking of a club in particular, its all climbing clubs that have taken it. The bit that rankles me , is that not one sent out an email saying, HEY GUYS AND GALS, GREAT NEWS, WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN £10K, anyone not paying attention would never know it happened, and a lot of members in a lot of clubs do not pay attention.
Like I said, no criticism of any of the committees other than I do think they could have made a bit more noise about what could be seen as a good news story, particularly in the very early days of the Pandemic when people thought it possible we would be in lockdowns for years. Its almost like they are embarrassed about it.
My club decided not to take the money from the government because we decided it wasn’t meant for things like our club, our financial position could ride out the pandemic, and it was morally wrong to take tax-payer subsidies that we didn’t need.
I think there are three club huts in Nant Peris which were once private homes; the North London Mountaineering club (Fronwydyr), Ceunant Mountaineeering hut (Tyn Lon), and Vagabond Club (Pant y Fron).
The Climbers' club has Riasg, a bungalow in Roybridge, Scotland, which is part of a housing estate. The Midland Association of Mountaineers has Star Cottage in Two Dales near Matlock and that is a converted cottage in an housing area full of similar cottages.
To that extent they are all denying local people the chance to live in them.
That is the position I think all clubs should have taken.
They should have put the question to the membership, though because the committee is there to run the club in a business like fashion and keep things legal, moral questions are for the membership and matters for EGMs or AGMs as Spencer points out.
Obviously, the membership could say keep it, but they should have been asked.
> The problem is clubs some how aren't cool
That's easy to fix. We've seen a massive rise in membership applications since we installed the outdoor hot tub at our hut in Snowdonia.
Many club huts, not all, were established when the members were not well resourced, in fact often very working class without transport and unable to afford alternative accommodation or transport. We never however regarded ourselves as deprived, or in need or want help. They were often run down or ruined and situated in places that locals did not wish to live. You wouldn’t call Jacksonville a nice gaff for middle class members, or you might at your peril ! Our first hut was in Castleton in the Peak and was in fact an ex chicken hut that we paid 10 shillings (50p) a week for. We used to hitch out there at weekends and climb or go caving in all weathers, just happy to be away from the smoke and grime of the industrial towns in North West and out in the countryside.
I've always considered a functioning mattress, shower and a frying pan that retains some non stick properties as sufficient. A drying rooms, that's flash compared to clothes hung over a stove!
Fronwydr is London Mountaineering Club.
NLMC's hut is the one immediately W of Capel Curig.
The CC also has May Cottage which is in a residential terrace, it is an excellent resource for members but admittedly quiet for much of the year.
> I've always considered a functioning mattress, shower and a frying pan that retains some non stick properties as sufficient. A drying rooms, that's flash compared to clothes hung over a stove! <
You were lucky (ex Monty Python). I vaguely remember one hut in early '70s near Capel, can't remember club, that was simply a floor separated from the sheep by a ladder or stairs. No stove IIRC and certainly no shower. Still welcome shelter in bad weather.
> You were lucky (ex Monty Python). I vaguely remember one hut in early '70s near Capel, can't remember club, that was simply a floor separated from the sheep by a ladder or stairs. No stove IIRC and certainly no shower. Still welcome shelter in bad weather.
Actually, that sounds like our club. South Cheshire Climbing club. On the road up to Moel Siabod,?
> Actually, that sounds like our club. South Cheshire Climbing club. On the road up to Moel Siabod,? <
Memory vague but probable. Old school friend and I got a lift from a club member (motorbike and sidecar), probably summer 1970. There were frightening farm dogs before hut which were only deterred by throwing rocks in their general direction (not aiming to hit).
> Bryn Brethynau Barn, North Londons place?
No. I did stay there in early '70s. No sheep! I remember being with some NLMC members and we couldn't gain entry. As the thinnest I was volunteered to squeeze through a tiny hole about ten feet up. Made harder by entering under a low bunk bed. Too high for people to push my feet and looked like Winnie the Poo jammed fast with legs waving. Opened window to let others in.....who then found the key worked after all !
Sounds great, the kind of fun you don't get with digital combination locks!
I think a lot of youngsters starting out, or at walls, don't really know clubs with huts exists, that they have cheap accommodation, lift shares and experienced people willing to share time and knowledge.
Social media is awash with folk highlighting their spa weekend with mountain back drops, but no one is say they just had 2 days in the hills, learnt loads and it cost them £100 in total.
> and what about the BMC furloughing it's staff...
Just as well they did, the BMC income took a massive hit over the pandemic, nobody was taking out insurance and many people let their membership lapse.
> and what about the BMC furloughing it's staff and getting 80% of their salaries from the tax payers 😱
Why was furlough so generous? Particularly that a good portion of workers (figures vary) weren't eligible. As king, I would have decreed a 50% rate,this is an emergency, hard times, adjust to it rather than sit there inflating your bank balance.
> Imagine buying the CIC hut as a permanent residence
I'll tell you a good one - Tyn Lon (the Ceunant Club hut a few feet from the Vaynol in Nant Peris). Perfect location