Icy four-day queues for beach huts

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Around 50 people queued in sub-zero temperatures for up to four days to get their hands on a beach hut lease today.

Lets on the wooden huts on Avon Beach, Mudeford in Dorset come up annually on a first-come, first-served basis for the summer period.

They have no electricity, running water and it is forbidden to sleep in them - unlike nearby Mudeford sandbank where huts fetch up to £165,000 and can be slept in from March to November.

But that did not stop two families setting up camp four days ago and queuing in shifts for the leases which went on sale today.

Two lifelong leases were on offer, one costing £775 a year for a lease on a hut between 10 April and 30 September, and a shorter lease between 19 April and 5 September for £590 a year.

There were also 18 six-week leases up for grabs for the summer costing £400.

Laura Huxtable, of Avon Beach Company, which rents many of the huts out, said: "When I left last night at 5.15pm there was about 20 people outside, sat on deck chairs with all their hats and scarves on, their tents put up and it was starting to snow.

"There was a very good atmosphere with good spirits and people looking forward to the fact they were going to get their huts the next day.

"The rest of the 50 people were there in the early hours of the morning."

Anne Smith and her family were at the front of the queue and managed to get one of the lifelong leases which gives them first refusal on a hut every year without having to queue again.

"It's been OK as we've been doing it in shifts," she told the BBC.

"We've had people to talk to, it's not been too bad."

The huts have stunning views of Christchurch Bay and towards the Isle of Wight.

They are for day use with a folding table, two deck chairs and a cupboard.