At a meeting yesterday between Hastings MP Amber Rudd and Sheikh Abid Gulzar the new owner of Hastings Pier assurances were given that entry to the pier will always be free.
After almost eight months in administration, the sale of the pier was concluded on Friday. Yesterday’s meeting between the MP and the new owner was held to discuss the pier’s future and during that meeting Mr Gulzar told Ms Rudd that he will never charge for entrance to the pier and that he is eager to engage with the community to ensure they remain involved.
In discussions with Mr Gulzar, Ms Rudd also learned that all future bookings for events being held on the pier will be honoured, such as the popular Hastings Pier Jam. Mr Gulzar and the local MP look forward to announcing the pier’s official opening shortly.
After the meeting Ms Rudd said: “I was very encouraged to meet Mr Gulzar and hear most importantly that our beautiful pier will always remain free to visit. I welcome Mr Gulzar’s commitment to work closely with the community and I am reassured that our pier will be able to enjoy a sustainable and successful future.
“Mr Gulzar told me that he had been disappointed that Hastings Borough Council had refused his offer to meet ahead of the process concluding, but that he looked forward to working with them in the future.
And the MP has asked local people not to make personal attacks on the administrators responsible for making the final decision on who the pier’s new owners would be.
“I understand certain members of the community will be disappointed with this result, but I urge them not to make personal comments against the administrators who have overseen the bidding process. I have asked the administrator to publish information on the process to reassure everyone that the process was appropriately and professionally handled,” she said.
Mr Gulzar said: “It was a pleasure to meet Ms Rudd today at very short notice. We had a detailed discussion and set the priority to open the pier for the public as soon as possible. We are here to work and drive this town forward and would love to do it with the local community and council support. I urge the people of Hastings to support me and we will make this pier fully sustainable and for future generations to enjoy.”
Meanwhile Hastings Borough Council has issued a statement giving what it describes as a, ‘bittersweet’ reaction to Hastings pier sale.
Council spokesperson Kevin Boorman explained: “Hastings Borough Council is obviously pleased that the town’s pier has a long term future, but it has expressed concerns about the sale process. We are very pleased that our pier, one of the town’s most popular attractions, has had so much interest, and that it has been sold as a going concern.
“We cannot comment on the new owner’s plans, as he has not yet shared them with us. We do hope that we are able to meet him very soon.
“We did meet some of the other bidders, and their plans were exciting; we are disappointed that they weren’t given the time they asked for to develop them, as they could have had a major transformational effect on the town.
“We know that a lot of people, paid staff and many volunteers, have worked very hard indeed over the past few years to secure a long term future for the pier, and we would like to pay tribute to them. If it hadn’t been for their efforts, the pier would not have been saved. We are very grateful indeed for all that they have done.”