New owner considers Eastbourne Pier entrance fee

Eastbourne pier on fire Image copyright EPA
Image caption About a third of Eastbourne Pier was destroyed by fire in July 2014

The new owner of fire-hit Eastbourne Pier says he may consider charging an entrance fee for visitors to the Grade II*-listed structure.

Local hotel chain owner Sheikh Abid Gulzar bought the pier from previous owner Cuerden Leisure last month.

He said he may charge a £1 or £2 entrance fee but give customers a free tea or coffee in the tearoom.

Mr Gulzar paid an undisclosed sum for the pier but less than the £5.5m asked when it was last for sale in 2009.

Entrance to the pier has been free for decades, but there was a charge in the 1970s.

Image caption Sheikh Abid Gulzar held an open day to seek ideas from residents

Mr Gulzar said the entrance fee was raised in a discussion with a reporter from The Independent on Sunday newspaper.

"He asked about money - whether I've got millions - and it's not true," he said.

"I don't want this to be like others which are neglected. I am going to love this one.

"If we need to we will charge for entrance so in the tearoom we will offer them free tea and coffee."

Children's rides

About one third of the 1870-built pier was destroyed in the blaze on 30 July 2014.

It was partially reopened in September 2014 but a large section remains empty.

The pier was put up for sale in the summer when Eastbourne Borough Council refused Cuerden Leisure permission to install temporary children's rides on the vacant section.

Some local people tweeted they would not pay to go on the pier but others told BBC Sussex it was an important part of their heritage and they would pay an entrance fee.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Some Eastbourne residents tweeted that they would not be prepared to pay to go on the pier

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