Eastbourne to get £2m after pier damaged by fire
- 1 August 2014
- From the section Sussex
Eastbourne is set to get a £2m boost following a fire that left the former arcade on the town's pier a charred shell, Downing Street has said.
Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne visited the pier to see the destruction first-hand earlier.
On Wednesday, up to 80 firefighters, along with RNLI crews, tackled the blaze on the Grade-II listed pier.
Sussex Police said the fire was not believed to be suspicious.
No-one was injured in the blaze, which destroyed a third of the 1,000ft (305m) long structure.
Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne also visited Eastbourne fire station to meet some of the firefighters who helped tackle the blaze, and attended a meeting involving community leaders.
After the meeting, the prime minister said the pier was insured and that its owners said they wanted to rebuild it.
He said: "Obviously it's a scene of some devastation, with the burnt and twisted metal, but what strikes you really very early on is really how much of the pier has been saved by the incredible bravery, professionalism and hard work of the firefighters and also the RNLI and the police who did a brilliant job in getting to the scene so quickly.
"I think that £2m can make a lot of difference to help the traders who have lost their livelihoods, to help promote the town as a tourist destination, to make sure people know that it's open for business."
On Thursday, uninsured kiosk holders whose businesses may have been wrecked by the fire, were promised help.
The Eastbourne Pier Benevolent Fund has been set up offering free market stall pitches, and it is hoped empty stores can also be used as "pop-up" shops.
The fire has come at the height of the town's summer tourist season.
The resort is due to host its biggest summer tourist event, the annual Airbourne air show, which draws tens of thousands of people.
Mr Osborne said the fire had been "devastating news", but a package of financial support would aim to "minimise the effect on business and tourism".
"We will work with Eastbourne as a matter of urgency to ensure that the funding is provided without delay so people can start enjoying the pier again," he said.
Eastbourne's Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Lloyd said he hoped the pier could reopen again next year.
Helen Brook and Stuart Pearce were due to get married on the pier in three weeks' time.
Although the couple were due to wed on a section that is still intact, they said the blaze had left them "shell-shocked".
The fire damaged a foul sewer line underneath the pier, which led to a temporary discharge onto the beach from connected services on the building.
The Environment Agency also said red flags had been put out on the beach around the structure.
East Sussex Fire and Rescue said the cause was officially "unexplained" and the investigation would take "a number of days".
Sussex Police has called on people to submit pictures or video footage they shot to help investigators piece together the cause of the fire.