A COMMUNITY group’s bid to take over South Parade Pier has taken a major step forward after its owners agreed to listen to offers.
The South Parade Trust has opened negotiations with pier owners Fred Nash and Dawn Randall after they agreed in writing that they wanted to see a deal being struck.
While neither party will confirm the figures being discussed, the trust is now in a position to apply for grants to pay for the upkeep of Southsea’s ageing seafront attraction.
Leon Reis, chairman of The South Parade Trust, said: ‘We would like to thank Mrs Randall and Mr Nash for this offer.
‘They have recognised that it is the right thing to do for the pier itself and for our wonderful seafront, and is in the best interests of the city and people of Portsmouth.
‘Only now, with this written offer on the table, can we realistically ask anyone for funding to help us save the pier.
‘So this is day one of the great pier rescue plan. A long and difficult process lies in front of us.
‘But we have had time to plan our course with expert advice, and we know what we have to do.’
It’s almost 12 months since the pier went up for sale at auction, but failed to make its £200,000 reserve.
‘Since then the owners have steadfastly insisted that the pier is not for sale,’ Mr Reis said.
‘But we have continued a dialogue with them because we could see no alternative if the pier was to be saved.’
‘We have our business plan in place alongside fundraising options.’
Once a deal has been signed, the trust will consult with people about what they would like to see at the pier.
Mr Reis added: ‘2014 could be a very happy New Year for the city of Portsmouth and all of its seafront-loving citizens.’
Talking about why he wants to sell up, Mr Nash said: ‘It’s old age. I’m 70 and I don’t want to be selling ice cream when I am 90.
‘I don’t want the work.
‘We are in very serious negotiations with the trust about them taking on the ownership.
‘The pricing is strictly confidential at the moment.
‘As soon as contracts are signed the pricing will be released.’