COUNTY NEWS: Rumour of pier sale sparks protest gig

Hastings Pier. Photo by Eddie Mitchell.
Hastings Pier. Photo by Eddie Mitchell.

Employees are to hold a protest against rumours a popular Sussex pier will be sold to Sheikh Abid Gulzar from Eastbourne Pier.

In a Facebook post, Hastings Pier said a protest gig would be held on the pier at 6pm today (Wednesday, June 13).

The post said: “It has come to our attention that Hastings Pier is likely to be sold to Sheikh (Abid) Gulzar from Eastbourne Pier either tomorrow or Friday.

“As employees of Hastings Pier, we have remained neutral over the past eight months, as we’ve trusted that the Heritage Lottery Fund and administrators will do the right thing for the pier’s future.”

The employees said the protest gig was organised as they had ‘no choice but to speak up’ after the asset ‘which was saved with £15.2 million of public money’ would be sold to a private entrepreneur.

In the post, they added: “So we will be holding a protest gig on the Pier from 6pm tonight – we invite everyone who cares about this issue to come and make your voice heard – Give the Friends of Hastings Pier more time.

“The Friends of Hastings Pier are currently in conversations with world class operators, with the proposition of making a collaborative bid. We know the pier hasn’t been working. We know that things need to change and improve – we need a building, we need a budget, but we have a plan and if we’re given time and investment we believe we can turn Hastings Pier into the icon the town deserves. They need somewhere between a few days and a couple of weeks – surely this is worth waiting for.”

This newspaper contacted GVA – the property firm appointed by administrators to handle the sale of Hastings Pier – who said ‘no official comment or update’ has been given.

A spokesman for the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) added: “We are supporting the administrators appointed by Hastings Pier Charity in their efforts to find a new future for the pier following the sad demise of the community trust. A decision on the future of the pier will be announced by the administrators in due course.”

Neither GVA or the HLF could confirm when the announcement would be made.

Friends of Hastings Pier (FOHP) – a group of residents seeking to keep the pier in public ownership – has raised £434,255 of a £500,000 target.

The FOHP have insisted they are not involved in organising the gig but ‘will be supporting it to stress that there is a community alternative’.

Sheikh Abid Gulzar declined to comment.