The people’s pier project… has anyone asked the people what they want?

We asked, and the readers answered, but we still want to hear your thoughts, opinions and ideas. People are passionate about Hastings Pier and for many different reasons.

Tell us what you think:

  • email tellmeyourstory@hastingsinfocus.co.uk  
  • on Twitter @hastingsinfocus
  • on Facebook @hastingsinfocus or search for the Hastings in Focus group

 

Have ambitious plans to keep Hastings pier in the ownership of the community run out of steam?

A Crowdfunding page set up at the start of the month to raise £500,000 has so far raised only £57,535 and as we write no money has been pledged today and only £340 was pledged yesterday. To reach it’s £500,000 goal by May 31 the Friends of Hastings Pier (FoHP) need to be persuading people to pledge – on average – more than £27,000 every day.

Jess Steele who was instrumental raising the cash to get the pier rebuilt in the fist place remains upbeat, she said yesterday: “We hope to see some larger contributions coming into the Crowdfunder in the next ten days, as is common with crowd-funding, but it’s essential that we get the individual and organisation donations up as high as possible so we reach the target.”

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Bank holiday revellers flock to the town but the pier looks far from popular in this photograph.

But one social media commentator disagrees, writing on the Hastings In Focus Twitter account (@hastimngsinfocus) Andrew Gurney said: “This goes to show that this isn’t supported by the community at all. It needs to be run as a commercial organisation which can be a successful tourist attraction, solvent and bring revenue into the area.”

And the struggle to raise the £500,000 through crowd funding is just part of the story. Administrators told FoHP it needed to demonstrate it could access £1.2m, enough to keep the pier operating at its current level of losses for two years, then on top of that a further £3m is required to develop the top of the pier, to design and build the structures that will transform the financial performance of what is already universally acknowledged as an architectural triumph.

The campaign started so well with a packed public meeting in the White Rock theatre just three weeks ago where several hundred people unanimously backed the proposals being put forward by FoHP. That proposal included a comprehensive document that outlines how a programme of activities could be developed to keep the pier open and busy for 16 hours a day. The plan was drawn up by Adam Wide, an expert in his field, he sees the pier’s entertainment hub operate along the lines of a cruise ship where something is always happening to entertain local people and visitors alike.

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Night… There is no doubt that Hastings pier looks absolutely stunning.

So why isn’t the excitement and enthusiasm generated by the public meeting translating in to hard cash? FoHP talks of creating the ‘people’s pier’ but at the end of the day do the people of Hastings and St Leonards want a ‘people’s pier’? Do they really care who owns the pier as long as it stays open?

On our social media platforms last week we asked just that question and received, a variety of answers and opinions. Below we publish exactly what people were saying. In some cases people obviously haven’t seen the creative vision developed by Adam Wide because that would counter many of the criticisms that there is not enough to do on Hastings pier.

Cheryl Bell says of FoHP: “They are NOT ‘enthusiastic amateurs! This is a group of highly skilled professionals who are just as qualified, if not more, than the other bidders. These are the people who saved the pier in the first place.”

While Ed Lofts says; “If something is needing to be saved again! That means it isn’t safe! Therefore it wasn’t saved in the first place? If they did a proper job the first time they wouldn’t need to save it again.”

Paolo Hanson believes the pier needs, “Fifty permanent stalls and kiosks  paying £25k per annum and maybe a bar come restaurant at the end paying circa £50k pa. That would generate over £1m in rental income and provide employment.

“It would be a prime location with lots of customer footfall.”

And Mr Hanson is blunt in is assessment of where things stand: “If the figures didn’t stack up five years ago, why did it get rebuilt? Maybe it should have been completely taken down and done away with.”

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And day…

Steve Taylor wants to, “…make the pier what a pier really should be! A great place to take the kids. Spend money at the arcades and buy an ice cream for the kids. It should also be a great venue for adults in the evening. Then all their problems would be gone!”

Jason Carr says what many people said: “Most people I know think they need more on there to pay for itself with the revenue coming from ground rents. Simple economics surely.”

Shiva Hart believes the pier can work but needs council subsidies to survive long term: “I think it can work but it doesn’t need good intentions it needs the right people in the right positions. The upkeep costs would need to be subsidised by the council to some extent. If you have a very clear idea of the costs and understand the restrictions and options you could put together a viable plan. I’d love to get involved, but I haven’t yet.”

William Skinner says he wants to see, “some decent bands that adults will go and see rather than d&b artists that will undoubtedly draw in 18 year olds who aren’t going to spend much money on the pier.”

Paul Tublord say: “I think in real terms it was working. Calling the administrators in was something that shouldn’t have happened without first consulting the shareholders…  I think a a possible legal challenge by the shareholders could be a way forward.”

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It’s the vast open areas give the pier its beauty but mean it’s virtually impossible to make it pay in its current form.

James Veevers says: “Who decided what would be built on the pier because from what I can tell it doesn’t represent what the people of Hastings wanted. A few shacks, a fish and chip restaurant and a few lacklustre concerts don’t make a viable business.”

Darren McCann said: “It sadly seems that the people who run the FoHP don’t want events for the people of Hastings only events that suit their tastes and agenda. Why can’t we have wrestling, family fun days, an ice skating rink, a ten pin bowling alley and a fun pier for EVERYONE.”

Adam Wide responded: “…had you come to the public meeting on April 23 you’d have seen that there would be a ‘packed’ entertainment programme. Including everything you ask for and MUCH more!”

And Peter Fairless added: “Friends of Hastings Pier isn’t a closed off elite, anyone can join and put their ideas forward. I know, because I have!”

Timothy Fenner said: “I put £100 into the restoration pot because I believe in the idea that a decent seaside town should try and keep its pier, but as a restoration it’s not impressive at all. It’s dull and windswept offering little in the way of interest to locals or tourists.”

Ron Slaughter wants to know: “…when will people become realistic? It won’t run with expensive bands that after everything is paid out makes very little profit.”

Neil Sutcliffe believes: “The pier’s biggest contribution to the town was money by attracting tourism. If I was a tourist planning to visit a seaside town with a pier there are a number of visually more appealing ones. Hastings pier is architecturally attractive, but empty.”

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Adam Wide’s comprehensive plant to ‘re-imaging’ the concept of a pier for the 21st century. To read it in full click the link at the bottom of this article.

While Graham Lewis says: “Don’t mention the fishing restrictions they have put on there.”

Steve Colwell said: “I went to that meeting at the White Rock Theatre, and the Friends of Hastings Pier presentation was excellent. These are people who helped to save the pier in the first place, who had nothing to do with the running of it since.”

Shaun Chappell says: “It’s a beautiful pier but if we are to keep it going it needs something on it for people to do all year and this arty lot have no idea. It’s great on a sunny bank holiday to say how wonderful things are about the pier but it needs someone to come along to make it a all year pier and only then will it start to make money. Sorry to say this but we have wasted too much money on it already!”

Writing at the end of the bank holiday weekend Jenny Pascoe said: “So good to see so much life on the pier today! I’m sure more is needed on there to raise the funds. There was nothing for the children…the carousel that used to be there was great and how about a simple little train running up and down the length of the pier? The children would love it and it could be manned by volunteers and raise plenty of funds. I know lots of us love the pier and want to see it succeed.”

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People having fun – it’s what the pier needs more of if it is to survive.

While a disappointed Frank Swaine had a different perspective later in the week: “Walking past the pier at about four o’clock this afternoon in the sun, there were about ten people on the pier and I think five of them were security, back to normal after the bank holiday.”

Naomi Mills said:  “I don’t care who owns the pier as long as they fill it with something interesting not just tacky little sheds full of tourist junk. There used to be a ballroom on the pier with discos and dances and events.”

Councillor Godfrey Daniel said: “I have pledged. I want to see a community pier!”

While Angela Gardner says: “I really love the pier and hope it doesn’t become another pier like Eastbourne.”

Barney Howe asks: “Who’s coming up with this £3m idea? The problem is where did all the last lot of money go because I could have built a whole new pier for less than what they spent last time and it would have had things on it. I would invest if my money was safe and for my money to be safe I would have to trust whoever was responsible for it.”

Gary Rootes asks: “So the big question is has the pier made any money from the day it opened? Just asking.”

Adam Wide’s creative vision for Hastings Pier, click the link below…

Hastings PIer – The Vision

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