WORK to stabilise South Parade Pier has begun amid fears it will be too little, too late.
A team from Fareham-based welding and steel fabrication firm KD Solutions was yesterday cleaning the piles underneath the pier to prepare them for inspection by structural engineers.
KD Solutions operations manager David Ford said work had been done to restore the eastern ‘hip’ of the pier, which had been in danger of ‘imminent collapse’.
He said the work was completed shortly before the remnants of Hurricane Berttha hit on Sunday, damaging scaffolding around the works.
Mr Ford said: ‘We got in there just in time as far as Bertha was concerned.’
He said repair works were also planned for the canopy above the promenade, so the hoardings blocking it off could be removed.
The work is being done on behalf of a consortium of six Portsmouth businesspeople who want to buy the pier, but have not yet revealed their identities to the public.
A sign on the hoardings claims the pier is ‘under new ownership’, but South Parade Trust chairman Leon Reis said this was false, as it was clear Fred Nash and Dawn Randall still owned the pier.
He said: ‘I checked with the registry office yesterday and the ownership has not changed.’
Mr Reis added: ‘When is Portsmouth City Council going to do anything to ensure the safety of this structure?’
But a council spokeswoman said: ‘It is not our responsibility to do anything on the pier, that’s down to the owners.’
Mr Reis said work on the canopy would not save the pier from damage and likely destruction in the coming winter’s storms.
He said: ‘It’s completely ludicrous.
‘The people of Portsmouth deserve to know when real work will start and what’s going on.
‘Meanwhile, we are approaching the winter storms and there is no real programme of work for the pier.’
Malcolm Belcher, project co-ordinator acting on behalf of the prospective new owners, is on leave and could not be contacted.
Mr Belcher said last month everything possible was being done to save the pier.