As the new owner of Hastings Pier I’m not jumping on any bandwagons

From: Sheikh Abid Gulzar, Grand Parade, Eastbourne

As the new owner of Hastings Pier, I trust you will give me the opportunity to reply to the letter from David Barry in last week’s Hastings Observer.

I feel very sad that Mr Barry should accuse me of refusing to discuss my plans or listening to the wishes of the local people.

How wrong he is!

First, I am on Hastings Pier every day, seven days a week, and people are coming up to me and talking.

Most are complimentary and wishing me well, adding in their ideas at the same time.

A minority are not so praiseworthy and critical but let me assure you, I listen to each and every one.

As for my plans, please allow me to put this into perspective.

I am absolutely thrilled to have taken on the ownership of Hastings Pier but remember the circumstances that made this possible.

Only last November, the charity which ran the pier went into administration.

The previous month, it was reported to have been in financial difficulties.

That is not an impressive history, I am sure we all agree on that.

So we have to reverse what can only be described as a poor situation.

My first priority has been to review everything so that the business can become sustainable for the long-term.

And please remember that this is a business.

I can’t just wave a magic wand and do what everyone suggests overnight.

I am making small improvements all the time but my team and I are taking our time.

We are working out what is achievable both in the short and long term.

We are monitoring footfall, spend, how many people are using the bar, how many ice creams are being sold. Everything.

The town deserves a pier that will work for the people, not just for tomorrow but also into the future.

I will be jumping on no bandwagon.

But I will be working every day to make the pier better. And I am confident I will succeed.

Yes, the council leader is aware of some of my ideas and we will continue to talk and, when appropriate, announce my intentions.

Please be clear – Hastings Pier was failing, it was in administration.

Now we all have to be positive, work together and bring it back to where it should be.

And that is my aim. I want the town to support me on this amazing journey I have just started.