From: Glenn Veness, The Slides, St Leonards
I have to say I’ve been very disappointed with the hostility towards Mr Gulzar, the new owner of Hastings Pier. I have no idea what Mr Gulzar’s plans are, but surely if we care about the pier, we should be showing some respect and work with him rather than against him.
I hear people complaining that Mr Gulzar has no plan. If so, then surely the best thing we can do is to sit down and give him an idea of how we see the future of Hastings Pier.
Let’s tell him that he could not only be the owner of one of the countries oldest most traditional piers, but also of one of the most modern ones as well, giving both these beautiful structures their own identity. I’m sure he would embrace the idea of owning two lovely piers with different personalities.
I invested money into the pier, but if I’m totally honest I wasn’t overly impressed with what we got for £15 million pounds. I know my opinions are of little significance and open to criticism which I understand, if it doesn’t become personal, but I feel for a start we should have charged to walk onto the pier.
I would have probably gone on more myself knowing each visit helped in the upkeep of the pier. I really don’t understand the logic of people who don’t want to pay, and then bemoan it’s demise.
We say that Mr Gulzar has no plan, but did we? Did anyone sit down originally and have a constructive vision for the pier?
I felt we should have played to our strengths more. We have enough incredible musicians locally to provide music, without lining the pockets of agents of has-been bands. Surely this is what a ‘People’s Pier’ is all about. Personally I would like to have seen a large area at the front of the pier that formed a courtyard. This would have been the hub of the pier and offered shelter from the cold winds.
The structure forming this courtyard would consist of a couple of bars akin to the old Gritti Palace. Also maybe a couple of places offering food similar to that of the very popular Girls Gone Greek, or Goats Ledge. These are our strengths. Places with character. There could be a coffee bar, ice cream parlour, gift shops and maybe somewhere similar to Made in Hastings, offering the works of artists in the town.
The area inside the courtyard could have been similar to Covent Garden, where any musicians could perform at anytime, similar to the other evening when they turned up for an impromptu gig in demonstration at the pier’s sale. Why wasn’t this happening earlier?
The courtyard could be used for numerous events all year round and even a Christmas market in the winter. Or events similar to our own Seafood and Wine Festival. It could be hired for weddings, etc. It could have been designed to incorporate a screen at the far end, offering a far more sheltered place to show films.
The other mistake we made was not including anywhere for children. Initially, on the other side of the courtyard we could have had an area with a glass surround about 4ft high, again to offer shelter from the wind. Inside here could have been a simple play area with sand pits, buckets and spades, paddling pool, puppet theatre, face painting and so on.
We have some great sculptors in Hastings. We could ask Mr Gulzar if we could commission a number of them to create pieces which we could dot around our pier. And what about a mini museum telling visitors of the famous people that have lived in our beautiful town?
Something else we could have considered before was asking all those people who wanted the pier to succeed, if they would be interested in setting up a direct debit for the pier. I would gladly have paid £5 a month if it helped Hastings Pier thrive again. Anyone who contributed could have had free entry all year.
I am only putting these ideas forward as I want Hastings Pier to provide pleasure for generations to come. What we don’t want is for us to waste our time arguing over her future. She deserves better.