Volunteers give support for South Parade Pier community bid

PLAN South Parade Pier
PLAN South Parade Pier
An aerial view of the Solent airfield. Picture by Shaun Roster

IFA2 project takes another step as planning approved

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PLANS for a community buy-out of South Parade Pier are taking shape after volunteers came forward to pledge their support.

Last week the East Southsea and Eastney neighbourhood forums voted unanimously to back residents’ ownership of the landmark.

Now the two groups and the Southsea Association are putting together a business plan they hope will make their dreams of a community pier a reality.

They are worried about the lack of investment by its current owners and the barring of the public from the end of the pier over health and safety fears.

Since their plea for volunteers was reported in The News they have received offers from 25 ‘highly qualified’ local people in a range of professions.

Leon Reis, committee member of the East Southsea Neighbourhood Forum, said: ‘Let’s not get carried away.

‘We are prepared for this to be a long, hard, complicated job, but we now have the manpower and the skills to get this bandwagon over the line. We are absolutely determined to save South Parade Pier.’

He added: ‘Now we need to produce a business plan. Our meeting last week gave us a lot of people that can help us. Now we are looking to meet next week and start work on the details.’

Mr Reis added that their bid could involve a share scheme similar to the one being put forward by the Pompey Supporters’ Trust.

He also said the pier’s current owner Fred Nash has pledged to seriously consider a community bid.

The move to buy the pier has won the support of both city MPs and local councillors Luke Stubbs, Terry Hall and Matthew Winnington, but the group is also calling on Portsmouth City Council to do everything it can to support them.

The leader of the council, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: ‘We are prepared to help and work with them, but there is no point anybody running the pier if they can’t make it work as a decent business, because then it doesn’t have a long term future.

‘A trust has a much better chance of doing that because it can apply for grants. But money from the council is very, very tight.’

Those who want to get involved can email south sea.forum@gmail.com.