SAFETY concerns have been raised after repeated police call-outs to South Parade Pier in Southsea.
A string of incidents involving noise, public order issues and an ongoing civil dispute have led some Portsmouth city councillors to question how the attraction is being run.
In recent months officers have attended the pier to deal with a harpoon gun scare, an attempted eviction and a 50-man brawl. Its owners were also ordered to pay £246 by the courts for causing a noise nuisance in May.
Other fears have been voiced over whether the end of the pier itself is hazardous – after it was closed to everyone except fishermen for health and safety reasons, then reopened briefly last month before closing again.
But pier owner Dawn Randall said the reports of problems were ‘all just talk’ and there were perfectly good reasons for shutting the end of the pier.
She said: ‘I have stopped people coming on to the end of the pier at the moment because we are having a lot of work done.
‘It is dangerous for people to come on while the work is being done. We don’t want children running around while workmen are busy. Obviously it’s different for fishermen because they are being supervised all the time. We’ve got some great things going on at the pier and all people can talk about are these little things that aren’t even true.’
But Lib Dem cabinet member for community safety Cllr Aiden Gray said he was worried about the number of incidents that were alleged to have taken place at the pier.
‘There have been several occasions recently when I have heard worrying things about South Parade,’ he said. ‘I know it is causing people in the local area to become very despondent and upset.
‘And I’m not happy that the pier is causing the police to be called out when they could be dealing with more important things.
‘The structure is also a cause for concern – there should be more done to make sure it is safe. I don’t see how it is okay for fishermen but not for the public.
‘Either it should be completely closed or completely open.’
Ward councillor Terry Hall added that she had also heard complaints from residents about noise disturbances.
‘The problem is the council really can’t get involved until there is some sort of breach of trading standards laws,’ she said. ‘But the pier is definitely a cause for concern.
‘I have received a few complaints and I know my ward colleagues have as well.’