OUTRAGED visitors to South Parade Pier have found they are no longer allowed to walk along the iconic seafront attraction.
Families hoping to enjoy the Southsea landmark have been turned away by staff manning gates because of health and safety fears.
And many have expressed confusion that people can still pay to go fishing at the end of the pier, despite owners insisting its structure isn’t safe.
This has led to anger from residents and councillors who argue that either everyone should be allowed to use the pier – or it should be completely closed.
But one of the attraction’s owners, Fred Nash, said Portsmouth City Council had produced a report in September last year which said repairs were urgently needed on the pier.
He added that fishing was still allowed because the structural problems were in the middle of the end platform, not at the sides.
There is also building work taking place for a new fish and chip restaurant, which forced the closure of the walk way beside the sea last year, but has now caused fury from visitors expecting a stroll in the sunshine.
Noel Philip-Davies, 46, from Baffins, said he was bitterly disappointed to have travelled to the pier and paid for parking only to be turned away.
He said: ‘I have two kids and we went for a walk and decided to go on the pier – the kids were desperate to go on there.
‘It’s terrible because it’s a local landmark which should be open to the public. Whoever owns it is letting it run into disrepair. We wanted to go on it before it falls down.’
John Harrison, 57, of Cottage Grove, Southsea, said: ‘I’ve lived here all my life and to be blocked from the pier is an insult.
‘We pay our rates and now they’re saying you can’t bring your kids on the pier.’
And the leader of Portsmouth City Council, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: ‘It’s clearly mad. If it is unsafe for the public then it is unsafe for people who have fishing rods.
‘People use health and safety as an excuse for things – if the pier owners don’t have the money to invest in the pier and make it safe then they should sell it on to people who can.’
Mr Nash said the owners were working hard to restore the pier to its former glory – and have already built a new ice cream parlour and newsagent.
He added that structural work would begin as soon as possible and he expected the side walk way to be open again ‘very soon’.
‘At the moment we are making a loss,’ he said. ‘And we can’t get any financial support, so we have got to make the best of it and do what we can.
‘If anyone wants to come and make an offer for the pier right now we would certainly consider it.’