As Friends of Hastings Pier battle this weekend to prove they have the financial clout to support their bid to buy the town’s iconic victorian pier the man behind the creative vision for a community owned pier says ‘in a curious way’ that the battle has already been won.
In the preamble to his document that sets out all that is possible to make Hastings Pier into a huge visitor attraction Adam Wide says that the biggest battle has already been won; Hastings Pier has been saved and it has been restored.
Mr Wide was head of Europe’s largest entertainment consultancy, Openwide, and has spent 30 years in the industry giving advice and support to businesses including Sy TV, Odeon and the Sheraton Group. He told Hastings In Focus this morning: “We can argue that it is not fair and that we have been set an impossible task and that the figure is wrong – but for today the arguments are over and curiously in one way we have won.”
FOHP was told yesterday that it must demonstrate that it can continue to fund the pier which is incurring losses of around £50k per month. That means that by Tuesday morning, when administrators are expected to make a decision about who the new owner of the pier will be, FOHP must show it has access to £1.2m.
Mr Wide says: “FOHP buying the pier would be everyone’s ‘happy ending’. Our bid is the preferred bid of the Heritage Lottery Fund, the administrators and GVA. However ‘prefer’ counts for nothing – without cash. For them this is a business. The reality check is that the money from the Heritage Lottery Fund has run out, other bidders have cash and track records of running successful businesses, not least piers, whereas we don’t.
“For us to be successful we don’t need a strategy, we don’t need conditions, possibilities or a schedule – we need to be a potentially viable business with cash reserves of £1.2m.
“The reality is that on Tuesday they (the administrators) will assemble all the data to make a decision.
“I know I am coming in for some flak right now for doggedly pointing this out. But please don’t shoot the messenger, I cannot justify their stance – it sucks. I am merely repeating what I have been told is the situation. This is the reality of what we must deal with.
“Now is the time not for words but for action, we all want that happy ending.
“What we should be doing is phoning anyone we know with money or influence and asking for pledges. It doesn’t even have to be a donation, a pledge would be enough – as long as they are good for it! To keep our fabulous pier in public ownership – we need results.”
In his professional life Mr Wide was responsible for successfully biding for contracts to manage what were then failing piers in Cromer and Bournemouth – both of those are now self-sustaining and profitable.
FOHP are holding a public meting in the White Rock Theatre on Monday night at 7.30pm when they expect a significant number of local people to attend to demonstrate how much support their is for the bid they have put forward. Anyone who cannot attend Monday’s meeting has been asked to email FriendsOfHastingsPier@gmail.com to express their support for the project.
As part of that meeting Mr Wide will be presenting a fuller version of his vision for how the pier can become a destination attraction.