Community group calls for answers over Hastings Pier closure

Hastings Pier will remain closed until March
Hastings Pier will remain closed until March

A community group said it will be approaching the owner of Hastings Pier after news the popular attraction will remain closed until March for ‘essential repairs’.

Hastings Pier owner Sheikh Abid Gulzar announced on Saturday (December 29) that ‘sufficient time’ was needed to carry out repairs following a fire on November 24.

Work is expected to be carried out in early 2019.

Friends of Hastings Pier (FOHP), which had fundraised to keep Hastings Pier in community ownership before it was sold to Mr Gulzar, said: “FOHP and the Pier’s owner, Mr Gulzar, have a shared interest in the good maintenance of the pier and ensuring its continued important role as a community space and a cornerstone of Hastings’ regeneration.

“With this in mind, we will be approaching Mr Gulzar to ask for more information on the closure, maintenance and future investment plans.”

Mr Gulzar’s planning team said planning permission for five additional retail and catering units and the introduction of traditional pier arcade machines which will be located beneath the Deck Bar has been delayed by the decision to close the pier.

Friends of Hastings Pier said it would like to hear the details of the safety concerns behind the closure of the whole pier.

November’s fire was caused by an electrical fault in the seating area of the Pavilion restaurant.

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Friend of Hastings Pier added: “Of course safety issues should take priority, but in principle the pier should be kept open as much as possible for community use and benefit and we are keen to know that any necessary works will be carried out with no delays – we have heard stories of those who wished to visit memorial plaques of loved ones over the Christmas Holidays and were very disappointed not to be able to.

“We would also like him to share more details on the ongoing maintenance programmes – any evaluations that he has had carried out and schedules for ongoing maintenance and repairs, including the ten year maintenance plan put into place prior to the sale of the pier.”

The group also said it would seek ‘clarity on staffing issues’ while the pier is closed.

It added: “Finally, we would like to hear about and have the community input on future investment plans.

“We understand that the proposed five sheds are a temporary measure and, whilst we would not support them as a permanent solution likely to be able to finance the pier’s upkeep into the future, we would like to understand his intentions for, and where possible, provide community support for the short and longer term solutions.

“We are keen to open a dialogue so that these concerns, raised by the community, can be addressed constructively with the owner.”

Hastings and Rye MP Amber Rudd said she would be meeting with Mr Gulzar to ensure there is urgency getting the pier reopened.

Mr Gulzar has been approached for comment.