MOSQUITO devices, infra-red cameras and floodlights could be the answer to tackling a wave of arson attacks and vandalism on beach huts in Walton.

Beach hut owners raised concerns after a number of huts were destroyed by fire and others were vandalised in October and November.

The huts are privately-owned but are on land leased on an annual basis by Tendring Council.

The council and Essex Police staged a meeting with Essex Fire and Rescue Service and representatives of beach hut associations from Holland and Clacton, Brightlingsea, Dovercourt, Frinton and Walton, on Friday to explore what action can be take to tackle the arson attacks and anti-social behaviour.

Angry beach hut owners had previously called for CCTV to be put up, but the council said it has looked into the issue on a number of occasions and was not satisfied that CCTV is the answer.

Noreen Stoker, chairman of the Beach Hut Owners’ Association of Walton, welcomed proposals for mosquito devices, which deter loitering by young people by emitting sound at high frequency.

She said: “Beach hut associations had an open and frank discussion with the police and council.

“We are worried about security and antisocial behaviour and there are problem areas across Tendring.

“This meeting is a start and we would like to see the measures discussed brought in.

“They still haven’t said yes or no to CCTV, so it is not ruled out, but they are going to try these other things first.”

Mrs Stoker said the first meeting was a “step forward” and that the associations will be meeting the council and police to discuss the measures again in March.

Tendring Council said that following the meeting a number of measures will be investigated, including installing mosquito devices and floodlighting at key seafront locations The authority could also buy two deployable infrared cameras for use at hotspots around the district.

Mick Skeels, the council’s cabinet member for leisure and tourism, said: “I think it is fair to say the owners wanted to get a few things off their chest – and the council police and fire were able to explain the issues they faced.

“Between us all we came up with a number of ideas going forward and there will be further meetings arranged at least twice a year.

“I feel it was a very worthwhile meeting which achieved a great deal. We all accept there is no simple solution but if we work together we can achieve more.”

Essex Police will be liaising with Essex County Fire and Rescue Service over this issue and an education programme could be established in local schools.

Joint patrols between the agencies and beach hut association members could also take place.

Insp Darren Deex, of the Tendring Community Policing Team, said: “There is no easy overnight answer to these problems but if we can join forces we are in a far stronger position to protect Tendring’s beach huts from vandalism, break-ins and arson.”

Ivan Henderson, leader of Tendring Council’s Labour group, criticised some councillors for voting against a proposal to keep streetlights on all night while wanting to spend money on floodlights.

He said: “Members of Tendring Council’s administration who are also on the county council have just voted down a motion to keep street lights on all night, claiming we can’t prove lighting will stop antisocial behaviour.

“But here they are talking about funding more floodlights to stop it.

“I have owned a beach hut in the past and it was broken into – this is a real issue that needs addressing.

“But it is not just beach huts that need protecting – we need streetlights on to protect people’s homes as well.”

The next meeting of the group will be held on March 9.