THE leader of Portsmouth City Council has said the authority would not even consider buying South Parade Pier.
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson also ruled out giving financial aid to any group trying to take ownership of the Southsea landmark, arguing the council could not afford to subsidise it.
He was answering a written question submitted by Tory councillor Steve Wemyss at the full council meeting last month.
‘I have written to Steve and the pier’s owner Fred Nash to say that it is not appropriate for the council to put money into buying the pier,’ he said.
‘There are so many other things that are hugely costly, so putting money into buying the pier is not something that the council could or should consider.
‘And we wouldn’t put money into anyone else buying it.’
Cllr Vernon-Jackson said there were crucial differences between The Pyramids Centre, which is being supported by the council and South Parade Pier.
‘The Pyramids provides a service that more and more people are using,’ he said. ‘But because it’s in such a state less and less people are using the pier.
‘For all intents and purposes the pier has been closed to the public. What has happened there is an absolute disgrace.
‘But it is a private sector asset and there has to be a private sector solution to its problems. We just can’t afford to get involved.’
Committee member of the East Southsea Neighbourhood Forum, Leon Reis has been leading a drive to organise a community buy-out of the pier and said he was not surprised the council was unwilling to get involved.
‘We never expected and we never asked the council for financial assistance,’ he said.
‘We have always understood that it doesn’t have any money. What we are trying to do is find a solution that doesn’t require any financial help from the council.
‘When we have found that solution and have a workable business plan that allows us to raise money, then there might be other things the council could do to help us.’
Cllr Wemyss said he asked the question because of ‘mixed messages’ he felt were being sent out by the Lib Dem administration.
‘I think if we are trying to regenerate the seafront we have to look at the pier, because it is in a pretty poor state,’ he said.
‘The council needs to communicate more with the owners to see what can be done.’