Southsea pier campaigners challenged to come up with rescue plan

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

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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.

Gerald Vernon-Jackson 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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