City leader calls for campaigners to take action over the pier

TROUBLED A residents' group is trying to take over South Parade Pier
TROUBLED A residents' group is trying to take over South Parade Pier
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A COMMUNITY group hoping to save Southsea’s South Parade Pier is being urged to raise cash towards its future.

Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson wants The People’s Pier to help cover the cost of a survey that will identify what needs to be repaired.

The assessment would cost £80,000 because divers and experts need to inspect damage on the back part of the pier, which is closed to the public because the council said it was too dangerous.

English Heritage has already given the council £15,000 towards the survey and it is hoped it will contribute more.

The council is looking into buying the pier from its current owners with the intention of giving it to The People’s Pier.

But first it wants the group to come up with a business plan that shows it can run the pier as a successful business.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘There is pressure on the council to carry out a compulsory purchase of the pier because the people who own it aren’t looking after it as they should.

‘The problem with that is we need to carry out a thorough survey which would also mean us having to look at the pier’s foundations under water.

‘The cost is £80,000 and despite being given £15,000 by English Heritage there is still £65,000 to cover. We don’t have the money to cover that expense.

‘We want The People’s Pier to contribute in whatever way it can.

‘We also want The People’s Pier to come up with a business plan similar to the one drawn up by Pompey Supporters’ Trust when it began looking to take over the football club.

‘We want the pier back as a successful business on the seafront, and we want to work with The People’s Pier to achieve that.’

Leon Reis, of The People’s Pier, said work was being done on a suitable business plan.

‘We welcome what Cllr Vernon-Jackson has to say,’ he said.

‘He has turned his face towards helping us and we thank him for that. Of course we need a business plan.

‘No-one will give us money if we can’t do that.

‘That has no bearing on taking this forward. We have discussed with the council whether English Heritage might pledge more money.’

As previously reported in The News, the pier’s current owners Fred Nash and Dawn Randall closed the back part of the pier after the council said it was too dangerous.

The pier went up for auction in December but failed to sell because it didn’t meet its guide price of £210,000.

Mr Nash said he is in negotiations with The People’s Pier about the venue and if a deal wasn’t struck then he would pay for the repairs. ‘We have closed part of the pier down until the work is done,’ he said.