A group of residents hoping to keep Hastings Pier in public ownership has asked administrators for more time to present its business model and raise the required funds.
Friends of Hastings Pier (FOHP) called an urgent meeting on Monday evening in an attempt to raise £1 million to avoid being removed from the bidding process by GVA – the property firm appointed by administrators to handle the sale of the much-loved landmark.
The group said roughly 600 people attended the meeting and the response was ‘overwhelmingly positive’.
On Tuesday, two spokespeople from FOHP – who were elected to the role on Monday – met with the administrators and asked for a 30 day extension to get everything in place to show they can run the pier.
Jim Breeds, a spokesperson for FOHP and a Hastings resident since he was a boy, said: “The administrators were positive in their response. They said they are keen to move forward with the sale but that nothing was going to happen any time soon. They didn’t specifically say anything about 30 days but we have more time.
“We are now in the process of setting up a face-to-face meeting with the administrators as we think we have some great commercial ideas that we could run on the pier in order to generate revenue all year round.”
At Monday’s meeting, the group presented a business plan it hopes to take forward to the administrators.
Mr Breeds said that between calling the meeting and the meeting taking place circumstances had changed, but the group had plans to keep the pier’s freehold within public ownership by partnering with a commercial operator, which would run the ‘top’ of the pier and lease space from a body set up to maintain the pier’s structure.
The business plan was well received by Monday’s audience, according to Mr Breeds, with many of them making ‘sizeable pledges’ after the meeting.
Mr Breeds added: “We cannot just raise £1 million in five or six days but on Monday we were emphasising the importance of having the capability to raise the money over time.
“It is fairly clear that other private businesses are looking to purchase the pier but we have no idea what their business plan is.
“Our message to the administrators is that we have the backing of the community – and I use the term community rather than town because a number of shareholders live outside the town. The community is behind us, they think it’s a great plan and now we really need to be given the pier.”
Anyone interested in pledging money has been asked to contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The group said it intends to return all of the money pledged if its bid is unsuccessful.