Visitor centre is for education

Hastings Pier.
Hastings Pier.

From: Angela Tobin, Salisbury Road, St Leonards

I am writing to you regarding the meeting on May 1, where Hastings Borough Council’s planning committee approved an application to open a family amusement arcade in the pier’s visitor centre building.

I will be open from the start – I was devastated that our beautiful, award-winning and lottery-funded town pier was sold for a pittance to a businessman, and other more stable and original bids were ignored. I was saddened that it was closed for months. I was stunned that it ‘reopened’ with nothing actually open and in a terrible state. The amount of bird excrement on the pier made it unpleasant and unhygienic to be on and made me wonder about the level of maintenance across the whole structure.

However, I find it hard to comprehend how this terrible situation continues to get worse – planning permission granted for arcades to be put in the beautiful pavilion? A space that was designed by the architects and actually specified by the Lottery fund to be dedicated to education.

Last year, my children and I spent many happy hours in here at family craft sessions, looking at the Brighton University degree show, amazed at the automatons exhibition and learning about the history of the pier.

As well as being able to have refreshments in the warm when the weather was not.

This space was a place for fun, education, raising aspirations, a place for the community and a welcome attraction for tourists.

Hastings already has three large arcade areas, as well as a fun fair and rides for families to enjoy. They are well-established and well-used by many, including myself. It makes no sense to grant permission for more of the same in a small town.

It makes even less sense given the possibilities and the unique attraction of the pier in itself. Think outside of the box. Think big. Think about what is actually best for our town – that is your job! And apart from Cllr. Cox, you all failed to do that.

Shame on you Hastings councillors. You have failed our town.