www.hastingsonlinetimes.co.uk     Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
Photo: Jim Breeds.

Photo: Jim Breeds.

£100,000 still needed to save the pier!

The final push to persuade the administrators that the Friends of Hastings Pier can muster the financial support to run the pier is under way – the fund-raising effort is being ratcheted up to maximum to secure backing of £500,000 by the end of the month – 9pm on Thursday 31 May to be precise. HOT’s Nick Terdre (also one of the Friends) reports.

By the morning of Tuesday 29 May funds to the value of just under £395,000 had been raised. That consists of 1,000 individual donations of up to £3,000, worth a total of nearly £95,000, plus the pledge of an interest-free loan of £300,000 from igloo Regeneration, which calls itself the ‘UK’s leading responsible real estate business’.

So in the last couple of days just over £100,000 has to be raised. Coverage on BBC TV and radio has helped give a boost in recent days, along with intense leafleting of the many visitors to the pier over the bank holiday weekend: altogether over 25,000 leaflets have been given out and distributed to local homes and businesses.

Other initiatives are being followed up, such as contacting some of the leading bands which have played the pier over the last 50 years.

If the £500,000 target can be achieved, the Friends believe they could get it match-funded by organisations that support community funding, thus arriving at the £1 million plus figure required by the administrators.

Keeping donations flowing

A continuing flow of individual donations is important to demonstrate the widespread support for keeping the pier in community hands. But further involvement of a big hitter may also be necessary to hit the target as the clock runs down.

Talks have been held with various potential investors and funders such as the Co-op Group and a £300,000 grant application submitted to the Power to Change Community Businesss Fund.

The end of the month deadline has been imposed by FoHP. The administrators have been vague about when they plan to make their decision between bids from the FoHP and private operators; there are other bidders but how many has not been revealed.

In their latest update, issued on 10 May, the administators said they were assessing the bids including “the extent to which they are supported with the necessary finance and expertise to help ensure that the Pier has the best prospects for the future… no decision has been made but we hope to report in the next few weeks”.

Business plan

The Friends have drawn up a business plan aimed at securing a viable income for the pier. This was presented to the administrators earlier in May, apparently causing a good impression, according to FoHP spokesman, Jim Breeds and has since been further developed with the addition of a transition plan to cover the first three years of operation under Friends’ management (links to details of the business plan can be seen here).

To give themselves the legal status to achieve their aims, the Friends have established  the FoHP Trust which has been incorporated as a company limited by guarantee. They are also developing ideas on how to guarantee community ownership alongside a viable operation. “The most important thing is to have a guardian freeholder and a commercial operator,” they say in a press release.

Current thinking on how this can be achieved focuses on a structure with the freehold owned by the council-controlled Foreshore Trust and the FoHP taking a 150-year ‘repairing’ lease under which it would be responsible for maintenance and insurance of the basic structure. The trust would let an operating lease to a commercial subsidiary, of which it would be the majority owner, which would run activities and events, paying rent to the trust.

“This approach is an excellent way of spreading risks and responsibilities to where they are best managed, giving the commercial responsibility to the operator, the delivery and fundraising responsibility to FoHP Trust, and the long-term ownership responsibility to a stable charity that already owns all the rest of the Foreshore,” they say.

While discussions continue on such possibilities, the most pressing task is to demonstrate funding capability. “If you like the idea of a genuine People’s Pier, please donate right now as much as you can afford so we can get to £500k and have the chance to prove that the pier can be both community and commercial,” the Friends say.

 

To donate to saving the pier, visit FoHP’s Crowdfunding page. (If the target is not reached, all donations will be returned.)

Posted 14:11 Tuesday, May 29, 2018 In: Campaigns

9 Comments


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  1. Ms.Doubtfire

    Anne: you need to understand that the monies borrowed by Hastings Borough Council via the Public Works Loan Board is not on a fixed interest rate and interest rates are increasing now. Also the retail sector is suffering from a downturn and it is foolhardy to invest in this type of property in such a volatile and uncertain market.
    I think you need to do some homework on this before you make comment!!!!

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Wednesday, Jun 6, 2018 @ 11:23

  2. Anne

    The money the Council has spent on commercial property is borrowed at a relatively low interest rate from the UK Treasury. They can only afford to do this when they’re certain they can get a good rent from companies like TK MAX or when they’re saving money, ie not having to pay expensive rents themselves, as at Muriel Matters House.
    Why do they buy property? Because they desperately need to make money. The government has cut their and many other Council’s grants by £40 million since 2010, resulting in a loss over that time of 300 of the 600 staff (now back up to about 320).
    So when you’re cross about the Council not doing this or that, consider writing to Westminster.

    Comment by Anne — Sunday, Jun 3, 2018 @ 21:24

  3. Bolshie

    I totally forgot all about the litigation and court cases over the pier and businesses there.
    One thing I can recall now is that Gaby Hardwicke the local lawyers dealing with the case advised the council not to appeal it and to settle it following the initial judgement. But they ignored the advice and went to appeal lost it again.
    I now remember the Judge pointed a finger at the council over the case having got Ravenclaw, as I have said beyond the legal reach as they were registered in Panama.
    Oh and by the way, the guy who registered this company in Panama was actually living in Kent. Very slick to put it all together. And also as I am informed acquired a very nice bank loan from Allied Irish Bank …..and what happened to that money ???? Answers on a postcard please. And now we have the council by millions of pounds of commercial property….could be scary times ahead folks

    Comment by Bolshie — Friday, Jun 1, 2018 @ 20:47

  4. Ms.Doubtfire

    One has to assume from Chris Hurrell’s comments that this council has a bottomless pit of money – to spend and waste at will….but surely we should be kept up to speed on all these financial issues? What on earth is going on here? Do we have no say on how OUR money is spent? The best thing for this town would be for this council to be placed under Special Measures whilst some independent audit is carried out. Before it is all too late.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Friday, Jun 1, 2018 @ 16:43

  5. Ms.Doubtfire

    How does councillor Pete sleep at night???? Does he read all the adverse comments about him on this website??

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Friday, Jun 1, 2018 @ 08:19

  6. Chris Hurrell

    HBC could be liable for millions in compensation and legal costs associated with the pier. The settlement costs have never been revealed but are likely to be substantial as are the legal costs incurred in the three lost appeals concerning the pier.

    http://hastingsonlinetimes.co.uk/hot-topics/home-ground/pier-appeal-lost

    http://www.manolete-partners.com/2014/05/08/8th-may-2014-manolete-win-council-facing-seven-figure-compensation-bill/

    https://www.hastingsobserver.co.uk/news/council-loses-pier-appeal-case-1-6043504

    Comment by Chris Hurrell — Thursday, May 31, 2018 @ 20:44

  7. bolshie

    Yes I have to agree with Mrs Doubtfire there on the council providing some financial support in view of their 20 million quid shopping spree. Buying big retail units is currently quite risky where you have so many closing down.
    And after all the current situation with the pier and the tragic fire was all basically down to the council doing that dreadful deal with the Panama registered company Ravenclaw. Who did a runner. And of course the council not realising they have no legal recourse with a Panamanian company.
    I guess the pier does not fall within the remit of Cllr Pete’s “entrepreneurial socialism” category

    Comment by bolshie — Thursday, May 31, 2018 @ 16:37

  8. Ms.Doubtfire

    It is pretty shocking to learn that this council has been on a massive spending spree in recents months including the purchase of the TK Maxx site for a reported £8.35 million…..surely this council could step in here and help out with the pier?
    Clearly they have access to unlimited funds – £7million for the old Focus site…£4 million + for Muriel Matters house…plus much more we probably do not know about.
    Yet again this council has shown little support for our pier.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Wednesday, May 30, 2018 @ 13:39

  9. Gill

    If everyone living in Hastings donated a tenner (or more if you can) today I am sure FOHP would make , the more people see the total rising the more exciting it becomes, come on people dig deep

    https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/fohp2018/?

    Comment by Gill — Wednesday, May 30, 2018 @ 08:08

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