Pier hopes dashed

HOPES that the whole of Hastings Pier may soon re-open have been dashed following another inspection.

This was carried out by our consulting engineers, Gifford of Southampton, who were asked by Hastings Council to estimate the cost of carrying out temporary repairs to the steelworks underneath the foyer area.

This was one of the areas which had previously been identified as being unsafe.

The council had paid for the extra inspection following a meeting at the town hall on Monday between council leader Peter Pragnell, council officers, a representative of the pier's owners Ravenclaw Investments and Michael Foster MP.

At that meeting it was agreed that both Ravenclaw Investments and the council would arrange for their respective engineers to estimate the cost of temporary repairs to allow at least part of the Pier to re-open.

The council's experts have estimated the cost of designing a temporary support for the foyer area of the pier is between 75,000 and 100,000 and the cost of building the support is between 500,000 and 1million.

They also advise that there is little prospect of the final cost being under 500,000, but that there is a real chance the cost could exceed 1million.

In addition Gifford has said that the central section of the Pier is 'considered to be very vulnerable to progressive collapse.'

A council spokesman said: "This is obviously very bad news for those who were hoping that the bulk of the pier would re-open quickly.

"We are still waiting for the pier owners to present their proposals for the repairs necessary to allow the pier to reopen. We will obviously consider these as soon as they are received.

"Our experts advise that it would take some time to design the temporary structure needed to support the pier and considerably longer to erect it.

"It therefore seems to us that even if the owner is able to make an immediate start on the work, there is little prospect of the closed section of the pier re-opening in the near future.

"We have already met with representatives of the pier traders and explained the position to them. We have also contacted pier traders individually to see what their needs are, and are working hard to find alternative accommodation for them for the vital summer season."