Fears raised for future of South Parade Pier while owners hold on to it

UNCERTAIN FUTURE South Parade Pier
UNCERTAIN FUTURE South Parade Pier

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SOUTH Parade Pier is facing destruction – either through severe weather or a council inaction, according to the leader of the trust fighting to save it.

Leon Reis, chairman of South Parade Pier Trust, urged people to lobby candidates in upcoming Portsmouth City Council elections to promise repair works to the damaged structure.

The call follows a court decision to order the owners of the pier, Fred Nash and Dawn Randall, to erect a three-metre high ‘great wall’ around the faded Southsea landmark.

The owners have until November 12 to build the barrier, which Mr Reis fears will leave the pier exposed to more damage over winter.

The wall will extend 15m either side of the pier.

Mr Reis said: ‘By November we’ll be back into storm season. It must be considered highly likely that the pier will not survive another round of serious storms.

‘The people of Portsmouth have got to rally around to save it.’

As previously reported, six businessmen, led by Southsea entrepreneur Lawrence Mendel, have agreed to take over the pier and have employed engineers to assess what needs to be done to secure the structure.

The group want to turn pier into a thriving music venue similar to the Wedgewood Rooms and set up a ferry link to Gunwharf Quays.

Even though a contract of sale has been exchanged it has not been completed, so Mr Nash and Mrs Randall are still the legal owners.

Mr Reis criticised the order, made at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court, for leaving the door open on a demolition of the pier if permission was granted.

But council leader Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson said the incoming owners had no intention of knocking the pier down.

He said: ‘They want to restore the whole of the pier all the way along.

‘What I’m hoping is that the new owners implement their plans to restore it and give full public access.’

Co-ordinating surveyor for the new owners, Malcolm Belcher, said restoring the pier would be a long process.

Mr Belcher said: ‘We need time in order to develop practical and viable solutions.’