A COMMUNITY group with ambitions of taking over South Parade Pier is demanding to see evidence showing why the city council can’t help make that happen.
South Parade Trust believes the authority could activate a compulsory purchase order (CPO) and seize control of the venue to stop it falling into further decline.
Trust chairman Leon Reis says the council should then hand it over, and it would do the repairs if money can’t be found from the public purse.
But Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of the council, insists he has received legal advice saying it would be too much of a risk because if the trust did not have enough money, the council would have to cover the cost – something it cannot afford.
He also said lodging a CPO would result in a public inquiry, which could take up to a year and cost considerable money.
A meeting is now due to be held with Mr Reis and Cllr Vernon-Jackson as well as other council representatives to talk more about the advice given.
Cllr Vernon-Jackson said he wants to see evidence of the trust’s wealth.
‘It’s about showing us real money in a real bank account,’ he said.
‘When we did a deal to give the Pompey Supporters’ Trust a loan to take over the football club, one of the things we asked for was evidence that it had money.
‘It came back when it had £1m in the bank and then when it raised £2m.
‘That gave us reassurance that actually it had the financial muscle to make that happen.’
Mr Reis argued it would be in a better position to secure lottery grants if organisations knew it was the preferred pier owner.
He said emergency appeals for money could then also be made to the public.
Mr Reis said: ‘The trust is made up of a bunch of people within the community who are prepared to take on this immense challenge and we are not getting any encouragement from our council.
‘Our heritage is rotting and is going to fall down and be lost.’
Meanwhile, a group of businessmen is in the running to take over the pier from current owners Fred Nash and Dawn Randall.