A GROUP of Hampshire beach hut owners have been left high and dry after a council refused to replenish a shingle bank washed away by high tides.

There is now an almost vertical drop of up to 12ft directly outside the timber huts at Milford-on-Sea, in the New Forest.

As a result it is impossible to get into the seaside cabins without the help of a ladder.

Even then there is nowhere to sit outside and enjoy the sun and the sea views.

Some of the huts are so precariously perched above the drop they are at risk of tumbling forwards.

The owners of the £20,000 huts pay hundreds of pounds every year in ground rent to the local authority and are calling for the beach to be topped up with stones and pebbles.

But officials at New Forest District Council say the loss of the shingle bank is a natural occurrence and will recover over time.

Tracey Mead has owned her 11ft by 9ft blue cabin with her father, Graham Watling, since 2010.

Mrs Mead, 54, said: "The

huts are now teetering on the edge of a mini cliff face. You literally cannot get into your hut unless you have a ladder.

"The drop outside my hut is between 8ft to 10ft and is very steep incline and every time you try and take a step you just drag more shingle down making the problem worse.

"It is impossible to sit outside. There are about 20 huts affected."

Mrs Mead, a teaching assistant at a local primary school, said they had paid a specialist to lift her hut back a few feet and anchor it down.

She sai: "We were concerned about the hut tumbling forwards and hitting somebody. "

Sue Wearne, 54, has had her hut since last year. She said: "We pay £460 a year to the council in ground rent, all we are asking for is there to be a bit of ground to sit on."

A spokesman for New Forest District Council said that if the huts were unsafe to members of the public they would close off that part of the beach.

He said: "The beach has eroded following wave conditions during mid-April. The profile is natural in appearance.

"Further erosion is possible at any time, which could further undermine the huts causing a safety issue. If this did arise the council would intervene by closing any unsafe areas. It would then be the hut owners' responsibility for the timber buildings.

"The council does not undertake coastal protection works to protect beach huts. The council is not considering any works at this site.

"It is likely that the beach will naturally recover to some degree, but this may take time.

"An offer has been made to hut owners that material could be pulled up from the lower beach, when a suitable machine is next working at this site to do other work.

"Any other work would be very costly."