Just days after launching a very public bid to secure the future of the town’s pier in community ownership Friends of Hastings Pier (FOHP) have launched a desperate plea for cash.
The group needs to raise at least £1m by Tuesday to keep its bid for the pier alive.
A spokesman said: “Friends of Hastings Pier have created a business plan that will keep the freehold of the pier community owned while developing the space and leasing it out to a commercial operator. To be able to implement these plans, FOHP needs to win the bid and the administrators have given us a deadline of April 24 to raise £1m otherwise our bid will be dismissed and the Pier will be sold.”
Money can be donated at https://www.spacehive.com/fohp2018
A post was issued on FOHP social media accounts this morning that said: “FOHP now find themselves in a position where we need to raise at least £1m as soon as possible, for our plans to go forward.
“Without financial backing in place we will be out of the bidding by Tuesday. We know the funds and funders we can ask but that takes time, which we no longer have. So dig deep guys.”
The post goes on to say that if FOHP can come up with £1m it means they can have breathing space and time to apply to other funders and use other means to raise money. Those options are thought to include crowdfunding and a new share offer to local people.
The statement continues: “Our business plan is solid, we know we can make the pier profitable we just need the chance to prove it.”
Pledges of money can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word ‘Pledge’ in the subject line. Th public is also being asked to email the same address for information on how to make donations or to bring their donation to the special public meeting that is being held on Monday night in the White Rock Theatre. on Monday. The statement says that all donations will be refunded if the FOHP bid is unsuccessful.
One member of FOHP said: “We need big contributions. Does anyone have any corporate contacts? We need to get in touch with people we think might want to be involved we need bu, imaginative action.”
FOHP promise to keep the Pier community owned, promise to develop a space for community groups to meet and promise to develop the Pier to attract more visitors to the town.
“Hastings Pier is a beautiful architecturally award winning pier that was saved by the local community who fought really hard to rebuild it. The community deserve to keep the pier for their use and benefit. Backing this fundraiser will help secure and develop a wonderful community space for the very same people that rescued the pier. It will give the community a sense of pride that when they come together they can beat the odds and it allows them to maintain a stake in a building they created,” the spokesman says
Hastings In Focus understands that FOHP must demonstrate to administrators of the Hastings Pier Charity that it has £1.2m available – enough to fund the pier for two years if it continues to sustain losses at the current level and it must do that by Tuesday morning. It has been made clear that there will be no further grant aid from groups like the Heritage Lottery Fund which helped provide cash to redevelop the pier originally will be made available and that any plan to move things forward must be a sustainable one which sees Hastings Pier able to self-finance its operating costs.
At the meeting of Hastings Borough Council (HBC) on Wednesday night members discussed the plight of the pier, Councillor Robert Cooke asked what support, “if any” would HBC give to FOHP.
Council leader Peter Chowney told the meeting it was a difficult situation and that HBC had no influence over what happens to the pier although he pointed out that the council had said that it would like to see some form of community involvement in the overall ownership of the structure.
He said: “We hope that FOHP has put in a bid that adds up. The administrators will not consider a project that relies on public money.
“The administrators will look at whoever offers the best opportunity to secure a long term future for the pier.”
And Mr Chowney sounded a note of caution about what people should expect in the future: “It is likely that our beautiful, award winning, pier with its large empty spaces will not remain an empty space if it to generate money.”
He committed the council to work with whoever the new owner was, and to work with groups like Historic England to make sure planning issues for the development of the pier were looked at sympathetically.
Hastings In Focus understands that the administrators have received other bids for the pier, although unconfirmed names suggested as potential buyers include Luke Johnson who owns, among other things, Brighton Pier and controversial owner of Eastbourne Pier Sheikh Abid Gulzar administrators are thought to favour the community ownership option championed by FOHP.
Plans for the public meeting to be held in the White Rock Theatre at 7.30pm on Monday are progressing and FOHP hope that enough people will be willing to pledge their financial and practical support to keep the community backed bid alive.