Anyone who’s lived – or even visited Southsea – in the last few years will be excited by the pictures of the pier that we print today.
The illustrations show what the new owners have been talking about for the last few months, such as a big wheel, berths to moor boats and a tidied-up deck – and let’s hope we see these changes come to pass in the timeframe suggested.
But without wanting to inject any pessimism, the pier’s recent history means that we have to be cautious about any promises of progress. Because, to be blunt, we’ve heard it all before.
The previous ill-fated owners promised revamped bars and repairs to protect the structure. Instead we saw the electricity cut off, the pier closed to everyone except fishermen and then finally a closure order banning anyone and everyone from stepping on to it.
Now, we all want a refurbished, successful pier. It’s key to improving the seafront, and would be a huge draw; you only have to look at Brighton’s packed pier on a sunny day to see what it can offer a city.
And the work that has taken place so far, which has seen the promenade under the canopy reopened, is a welcome sign that the incoming owners are putting their money where their mouth is and righting the years of wrongs that have been visited on South Parade.
Several months ago we were sceptical that the consortium that took over the pier were refusing to make themselves known publicly and we are glad that they are now talking to the public via The News – a vital way of giving some accountability and some reassurance over their plans for what, to many is a most cherished attraction.
So let us hope we look back in a year’s time to a reopened, refurbished and resplendent pier. It has been a jewel of our seafront and it has the capacity to be so again. If we’re cautious about the progress that’s been made, it’s because we’ve been promised a brighter future before that hasn’t come off. Now let’s hope it’s a reality.