Is it the end of the line for Friends of Hastings Pier’s attempt to keep the town’s award winning pier under community control?
There is to be a protest on the pier from 6pm tonight (Wednesday) organised by the pier’s staff.
Staff who have been keeping the pier running while it has been in administration issued a statement today saying they understood that confirmation of the sale of the pier to Sheikh Abid Gulzar, the owner of Eastbourne Pier, would be announced by administrators Smith and Williamson tomorrow or Friday.
The statement says: “It has come to our attention that Hastings Pier is likely to be sold to Sheikh Abid Gulzar from Eastbourne Pier either tomorrow or Friday.
“As employees of Hastings Pier, we have remained neutral over the past eight months, as we’ve trusted that the Heritage Lottery Fund and the administrators will do the right thing for the pier’s future. But faced with the reality that an asset which was saved with £15.2 million of public money will be sold to a private entrepreneur with no public consultation, we have no choice but to speak up.
“We will be holding a protest gig on the pier from 6pm tonight – we invite everyone who cares about this issue to come and make your voice heard.”
The employees issued a plea to administrators to give Friends of Hastings Pier more time, they say: “The Friends of Hastings Pier are currently in conversations with world class operators, with the proposition of making a collaborative bid.
“We know the Pier hasn’t been working. We know that things need to change and improve – we need a building, we need a budget, but we have a plan and if we’re given time and investment we believe we can turn Hastings Pier into the icon the town deserves. They need somewhere between a few days and a couple of weeks – surely this is worth waiting for.”
But with losses running at a rumoured £50,000 per month and those losses still being funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund the administrators must be under pressure to make a decision and find an owner who can assume the running costs as soon as the sale is complete and end the drain on public resources.
Hastings In Focus asked administrators Smith and Williamson for a statement earlier today but none has been forthcoming and we have been unable to contact Sheikh Abid Gulzar for a comment.
Friends of Hastings Pier (FoHP) continue to actively fundraise through it’s crowdfunder website page but after a month and a half they are still £60,000 short of the £500,000 target and £300,000 of what has been pledged has come from one source and is in the form of an interest free loan.
FoHP had asked the administrators to be allowed to run the pier for the summer to demonstrate what they could achieve if allowed to take charge.
Given the apparent difficulty in raising the £500,000 it needs now there must be doubts about FoHP’s ability to secure the estimate £3m it will require to complete the infrastructure development that will be necessary to allow Hastings Pier to generate the kind of income it needs to become financially viable.
- Groups playing tonight include
King Size Slim