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South Parade Pier in line for £100,000 boost and new owners

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THE developers of the former Savoy Buildings site in Southsea will have to hand over £100,000 for the restoration of South Parade Pier, a community forum has been told.

McCarthy & Stone will be obliged to pay the money to Portsmouth City Council, which would then pass it onto the new owners of the pier, according to council leader Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson.

He said: ‘The council will be given some developer’s contributions and we will put £100,000 into helping repair the pier so that we can make it safe and accessible.’

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said he had met the new owners, who are from Portsmouth and enthusiastic about restoring the pier.

But Cllr Vernon-Jackson said he was bound by a confidentiality agreement not to reveal who they were.

More than 150 people were at last night’s East Southsea Neighbourhood Forum meeting at the Royal Beach Hotel.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson faced criticism for not acting sooner to save the pier.

Forum accountant Laurie Higgins presented photos showing new damage to the structure, including two gaping holes in the decking which are in danger of joining up.

Mr Higgins said: ‘If that hole meets the other hole, and our engineers tell us that it is quite likely to be progressive collapse, you will see the end of the building falling into the sea anytime soon.’

The mystery owners have employed surveyor Malcolm Belcher to assess the pier.

Leon Reis, who chaired the meeting and is South Parade Trust chairman, was sceptical the new owners would repair the pier, although he said he was pleased that they had employed Mr Belcher.

The trust had wanted to restore the pier using Heritage Lottery Fund money.

Mr Reis called on the council to order repairs be carried out to avoid another standstill, as happened under the pier’s current owners, Dawn Randall and Fred Nash.

Mr Reis said: ‘The council is refusing to order repairs on the pier because there’s some perceived risk to the council. But that argument no longer stands because we’ve been told that there are buyers with money.

‘Gerald says his officers tell me that there’s a risk to the council, but the officers tell me that Gerald has no political will to do this.

‘If this doesn’t work, then Gerald has to go down as the guy who signed the death warrant for this pier.’

 

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