Community backs calls for buy-out of Southsea pier

South Parade Pier in Southsea

South Parade Pier in Southsea

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COMMUNITY groups have voted overwhelmingly to support a residents’ buy-out of South Parade Pier.

The East Southsea and Eastney neighbourhood forums – along with the Southsea Association – have given their backing to moves to buy the landmark.

They also called on Portsmouth City Council to give its backing to their venture.

More than 100 people attended a meeting at the Royal Beach Hotel in St Helen’s Parade to discuss the issue on Thursday night.

They are worried that the lack of investment by its current owners is leaving the pier in need of urgent maintenance.

And it follows concerns that the public have been barred from the end of the pier over health and safety fears.

Leon Reis, committee member of the East Southsea Neighbourhood Forum, won the support of the majority of people at the meeting for his motion to back community ownership of the pier and called on the council to urgently intervene.

He said: ‘If we don’t do this the truth is nobody is going to buy the pier.

‘The only way it is going to get the money it needs is if we as a community do everything in our power to take it over.’

Mr Reis has asked for volunteers to come forward but has not announced what form any community bid would take.

He added: ‘I have 11 grandchildren and my wife and I want to be able to take them onto the pier in years to come.

‘Everyone in this community cares about it and we need to pull together to make this happen.’

Also supporting the motion was the chairman of the Southsea Association, Vince Faithfull.

He said: ‘We need to ask ourselves what are we going to do as a group of people to try and get the pier back.

‘We love this pier but we are going to need support from the community and the city council to achieve this.’

But calls for the council to intervene were rejected by Lib Dem Councillor Terry Hall and seafront manager David Evans.

Cllr Hall said: ‘There is absolutely no way that the city council is prepared to run the pier.

‘It is not in the business of running piers.

‘But we have helped community groups run other city assets like the Guildhall and Hilsea Lido and we could support a similar scheme here but there has to be the will from the community.’

Current pier owner, Fred Nash, has previously said he is losing money on the pier and would be willing to consider a buy-out by local people.

Mark Trapani, part of the bid team from the Portsmouth Supporters’ Trust, said he would help advise any group wanting to buy South Parade Pier for the community.

He said: ‘There are many similarities with what we find here at the pier and our bid for Portsmouth Football Club.’

Those interested in getting involved can email leon.reis@artistsharbour.com

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