New owners say they are doing all they can to save South Parade Pier

South Parade Pier''''Picture: Shamus Roster
South Parade Pier''''Picture: Shamus Roster
Picture: Pierandrea Guarnieri

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ASSURANCES have been made that work is being done to secure the future of South Parade Pier.

Engineers are assessing the level of damage to the derelict attraction to determine how much needs to be spent on repairs.

The structural survey is expected to take up to a month and boats will be going out during low tide next week to assess what needs doing to the structure.

The job is being done on behalf of a consortium of business owners who are seeking to take over the pier but wish to keep their identity secret for now.

Malcolm Belcher, project co-ordinator acting on behalf of the prospective new owners, said everything is being done to ensure the pier is saved from ruin.

The pier is closed after a court order was imposed on it because the structure is too dangerous.

‘We have been in the business of wanting to take over the pier for the past four months, but in reality, we have been getting ready for the survey for the past two months,’ he said.

‘It takes time to get the engineers in place.

‘It’s not just a case of calling an engineer and getting them to come to the pier

‘The method and application in getting this work done is very, very formal.’

Once the survey is complete, the prospective new owners will be able to work out how much money needs to be spent fixing the pier. As reported, contracts have been exchanged with current owners Fred Nash and Dawn Randall, but no deal has yet been made.

Mr Belcher said the consortium did not wish to be ‘distracted’ by calls made by members of South Parade Trust for the pier to be seized by the council and given to them.

As reported, the trust is seeking to save the pier and wants the council to use powers to allow it to launch a takeover.

‘We know the trust and the members of the community are frustrated with the lack of progress and the ongoing risks with the structure,’ Mr Belcher said.

‘We appreciate that. But there has been no discussion between us and Portsmouth City Council regarding anything to do with a compulsory purchase order or enforcement. We are in constant contact with the council and it is fully aware of our plans and it is being supportive of us.

‘We can’t at this stage get too involved or be distracted by comments made about things out of our control.’

Mr Belcher said he wasn’t in a position to say who members of the consortium were – which is operating under the guise of South Parade Pier Limited.

Leon Reis, chairman of South Parade Trust, said he still had great concerns about the lack of transparency being shown by the prospective owners.

‘If they are going to do the repairs that are needed to bring that pier back into full public use, then we would welcome it,’ he said.

‘Our problem has always been the lack of transparency shown by the people who have exchanged contracts.

‘If they were transparent, they would tell the people of Portsmouth who was behind this so we could judge for ourselves how likely it is that everything they do is in the interests of the community.’

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, the former Lib Dem leader of the council, called upon the council to consider intervention if the pier is not brought up to standard soon.

‘It’s not in a good state,’ he said.