England

Eastbourne Pier: Government's £2m traders' payout 'imminent'

Penny Mordaunt
Image caption Coastal communities minister Penny Mordaunt said the government's £2m was ready to go

A £2m payout by the government to help traders after the Eastbourne Pier blaze will be handed over imminently, a minister has said.

Two days after the fire on 30 July last year, David Cameron promised the cash, but traders have criticised the length of time it has taken to materialise.

Coastal communities minister Penny Mordaunt, on a visit to the pier, said the money was "ready to go".

Councillor David Elkin says the pier will be fully functional by the summer.

Refurbish tower

"I am hugely impressed with the amount of effort and the speed with which things have moved to help get the pier up and running again," said Ms Mordaunt.

She said that as well as helping to mitigate loss of trade due to the fire, the £2m would be used to refurbish the tower at the end of the pier.

The tower houses a camera obscura - an early precursor of the camera - thought to be the only example on a pier in the world.

"The money has been sat there ready to go," she said.

"We do need to ensure, because it is £2m of public money, that we have done all the due diligence."

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Media captionAerial footage showed the extent of the blaze

Mr Elkin, Conservative group leader, said he had been told the money was in the last stages of approval.

He said the area where the ballroom and arcade were destroyed in the fire would have decking and temporary attractions for the summer season.

"There will be some exciting additions to the pier while a major project is planned and the planning application is put together," he said.

"There has been relentless activity since that horrible day in August."

Image copyright Chris Weston
Image caption The pier went up in flames as tourists and local people watched from the beach

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