Progress continues on redevelopment of Southsea's South Parade Pier
WORK continues on the restoration of South Parade Pier after a batch of fruit machines and arcade rides were pictured being brought into the attraction.
Trucks belonging to east Kent company Harry Levy Amusement Contractor arrived to unload the goods as pier bosses prepare to reopen the venue at Easter.
But seafront campaigners have questioned why South Parade bosses Tommy Ware Snr and Tommy Ware Jnr are going back to the ‘old model’ of making money at the pier – and whether arcade amusements will pull in the big bucks long term.
Leon Reis, chairman of South Parade Trust, and chairman of East Southsea Neighbourhood Forum, took the pictures of the latest developments at the pier.
He said: ‘The long-term question is, how can the pier sustainable?
‘It’s no good if it opens for a while and loses money, and it goes back to square one and the storms bring it down.
‘It’s not just about getting it open, it’s about getting it sustainable commercially.
‘One might think, going back to the old model of fruit machines and minor rides for kids isn’t going to get the income the pier needs.
‘However, we wish the owners luck.
‘But we hope there is a sustainable business plan.’
But Mr Reis praised the owners for the work carried out so far to revamp the pier, which has been shut to the public since late 2012.
Pier owners’ spokesman Nick Courtney took pictures in November showing its buildings had been given an overhaul, with new glass panels, fittings and a fresh coat of paint.
Meanwhile, the deputy leader of Portsmouth City Council, Councillor Luke Stubbs, has asked the public via his blog whether they would be prepared to see cash gained from the nearby McCarthy & Stone flats development spent on a new walkway around the pier.
Cllr Stubbs, who also represents Eastney and Craneswater ward, wrote: ‘The council charges an infrastructure tax on new development, a slice of which has to be spent in the area where the development takes place.
‘The McCarthy and Stone building on the seafront means there is now a sizable pot of cash for this ward.
‘There has been a request for cash to provide a walkway around South Parade Pier. It’s a bit of a dilemma frankly and I would like to know what you think.’
Businessmen Tommy Ware Snr and Jnr first revealed in 2015 they had taken over the pier and made a series of announcements about what they would do.
There was talk of the venue being open for both of the Portsmouth America’s Cup World Series events, both in 2015 and last year, and a big wheel with a zipwire being launched.
Delays in getting restrictions lifted on a court order preventing access – due to the pier being too dangerous to access – meant progress had been hampered.
While there is still much to be done inside before the public can be allowed back, the owners hope to completely reopen the pier after years of being closed by next summer.
A pier spokesperson was unavailable for comment.