The two white elephants which tarnish our seafront

Winchester jail put in special measures

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They are the elephants in the room that is Southsea seafront. And their colour is white.

For far too long South Parade Pier and the Pyramids Centre have tarnished the image of one of the most magnificent stretches of prom in Britain.

And it’s about time something was done.

As we report today, the future of the historic pier is no nearer being resolved since the end of the landmark was closed to the public for safety reasons last October.

As for its near neighbour, the Pyramids has been a basket case since it opened. But in its case, at least something constructive appears to be happening at last.

A little to the east is the pier, a field of dreams for generations of Portsmouth children which is now no more than a rusting hulk echoing to the ghosts of visitors past.

The owners point to a refurbished ice cream parlour and new security shutters at the pier’s landward end. Wow. Big deal.

Just in time for summer and there’s no public access to most of the pier.

We agree with Councillor Luke Stubbs when he says: ‘It’s hugely disappointing that the pier has been closed for all this time and there is no movement on it. Will it be open this time next year? I doubt it.’

Back to the Pyramids. The council has now appointed – for five years – a new company to run it, but refuses to tell the public who it is for ‘commercially sensitive reasons’.

Apparently, the new operators will spend £50,000 on a new, open-to-all ‘fitness suite’. In other words, a gym. Yes, another one.

It also wants to introduce a roller skating rink and new water features for the main pool. Oh, and there will be an improved cafe.

We’ve heard it all before.

Time and again the council tells us that injecting new life into Southsea seafront is a priority.

Five years is too long to wait to see if the Pyramids can be turned around.

Perhaps 18 months would have been more realistic – and if that fails, the council should pull down the place.

But first it should start playing hard ball with the pier’s owners.