Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Southsea pier campaigners challenged to come up with rescue plan

South Parade Pier in Southsea
Image caption The People's Pier campaigners have welcomed support from Portsmouth City Council

Campaigners trying to save a Victorian pier have vowed to come up with a plan to save it within six weeks.

The leader of Portsmouth City Council, Gerald Vernon-Jackson, has challenged The People's Pier to develop a business strategy for South Parade Pier.

The group hopes to buy the pier, partly shut in October amid safety fears, and pay £50,000 towards a survey.

The pier in Southsea was auctioned in December but no one offered the £190,000 to £210,000 guide price.

Leon Reis, chairman of The People's Pier, said the group did not bid because it would be wrong to spend supporters' contributions for a price they considered unrealistic.

'Amusing' challenge

He said: "It's great that the council has lined up with our agenda to make the pier a publicly accessible place with a sustainable future in new ownership.

"It's rather amusing that the council, with millions of pounds and hundreds of employees, and legal powers, is giving us bunch of volunteers a six-week deadline to do anything."

The group estimates the full project will cost between £5m and £10m.

Image caption Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said experts from the council would check the group's plans

Mr Vernon-Jackson said council experts would consider the plans if the group can meet the six-week deadline and would offer support from the seafront manager, a chief accountant and senior lawyer.

He said: "We have asked them to do a business plan, but also a fundraising plan.

"We have offered support from our council officer to work with them to make sure the plans are sustainable."

Fred Nash, who co-owns South Parade Pier with Dawn Randall, said: "We own the freehold and nobody has approached us. We are open to offers. Anybody can arrange to meet us at any time".

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