New concern over South Parade Pier as venue remains shut for the America’s Cup

Picture: C�sar Moreno Huerta
Picture: C�sar Moreno Huerta

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CAMPAIGNERS are calling for the owners of South Parade Pier to ‘come clean’ over their intentions as fresh problems surround the future of the Southsea attraction.

It comes after Portsmouth Film Society was due to hold open-air cinema events at the venue earlier this month, but was forced to make alternative arrangements at the last minute because it could not open.

And more suspicions have arisen as the venue’s decks have not been opened up to the public for this weekend’s America’s Cup World Series, despite hopes they would be.

South Parade Pier bosses Tommy Ware Snr and Jnr won legal permission last month to open another section of the attraction - with the possibility it could be used to watch the America’s Cup races.

South Parade Pier is subject to a court order that restricts which parts of it can open.

Leon Reis, of the South Parade Trust, which has campaigned for the protection of the pier, said; ‘Several local people bought tickets to view movies on July 9 and 16, It was going to be open-air on the pier, because the Portsmouth Film Society was promised it would be open.

‘But anyone who looked at the pier knew it was a building site, and wouldn’t be able to hold hundreds of people.

‘The owners keep saying things that aren’t true.’

Leon says the film society moved its July 9 cinema night to Cumberland House, but the second event had to be cancelled as an alternative venue could not be found.

Project surveyor Malcolm Belcher has previously stated the pier will not be fully open as an attraction until next summer.

But pier owners’ spokesman, Nick Courtney, who also leads the People’s Plan for Southsea campaign group, says the film society was given ‘no guarantee’ that the pier would be available.

He said: ‘Portsmouth Film Society is an independent organisation. The society was told the pier could be available in principle, but not give a guarantee that it would be ready and were told to source an alternative venue.

‘The decision not to open the pier at the moment, is a commercial decision, based on preserving the longeivity of the pier. The owners are not rushing it for the sake of it.’

Mr Courtney added: ‘Everyone can see what is being done. People are past the stage where they are saying; “it’s never going to happen”. Everyone can see the owners are doing a brilliant job.