www.hastingsonlinetimes.co.uk     Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
The pier on the day of its reopening in April last year.

The pier on the day of its reopening in April last year. Now, though the gates remain open, Hastings Pier Charity has gone into administration.

Pier in administration as rescue plan is rejected

Hastings’ pier is no longer a going concern following stakeholders’ failure to support the rescue plan put forward by the owner, Hastings Pier Charity. HPC’s board has resigned and administrators have been called in. However, the pier is expected to remain in operation next year. Nick Terdre reports.

HPC’s rescue plan, which required £800,000 of additional grant funding, proved not to be to the liking of stakeholders, principally the Heritage Lottery Fund, Hastings Borough Council and East Sussex County Council. None of the stakeholders was prepared to commit funding, HPC said.

“On the basis that we are without funds to support our proposals, the Hastings Pier Charity is insolvent,” chair Maria Ludkin said in a message to shareholders. The board has therefore stepped down and called in administrators, whose job will be to find a long-term financial solution to the funding of the pier. Their work will be funded by HLF.

According to HPC, the pier is fully funded for 2018 and will remain open to the public.

Two administrators have been appointed, Adam Stephens and Finbarr O’Connell of Smith & Williamson LLP. “We have every confidence that the administrator, who has tremendous experience working with difficult heritage projects, is the best person to find the right solution,” said Ms Ludkin.

Smith & Williamson also approved the new business plan which was aimed at achieving self-funding pier operation in three years. The plan was “based on the actual income figures of the Pier in the last eighteen months, building on successes, developing further fundraising projects and with proposals for a new temporary structure capable of weather-proofing events for up to 2,500 people,” HPC said.

Financial struggle

Since it reopened in April last year, the pier has proved popular with the public and has won a succession of awards, the most recent being the Royal Institute of British Architecture’s Stirling prize. But it has struggled to balance the books – and while HLF provided most of the £15 million cost of restoration, the pier has received no financial help with the high costs of maintenance and operation.

Annual costs have been pared from £800,000 to £650,000, but even so income has failed to match spending. Three members of staff were recently made redundant, but according to HPC there will be no further redundancies following the pier’s move into administration.

The pier has 4,850 community shareholders who put up nearly £500,000 towards the cost of restoration, but HPC had always taken the view that it would be wrong to ask them to help fund operating costs, Ms Ludkin said. However, if the administrators fail to identify a viable way forward, they are likely to lose their money and the pier may have to close.

“Hastings Pier Charity encourages you to keep visiting and supporting the pier, and look forward to the next stage of the development of Hastings Pier,” HPC said. Fund-raising will also continue – the latest event in aid of the pier was a concert given by Harmony One and friends in St Clement’s church on Friday.

 

 

 

Posted 09:42 Monday, Nov 27, 2017 In: Home Ground

5 Comments


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  1. Keith Piggott (Icarus)

    I’ve always held view the money sunk into recreating this bleak plank, Hastings Pier if you like, was an obscenity in our economically and socially deprived conurbation. My forebears danced and dated and took boat rides from the formerly glorious pier, just as they also enjoyed the public Lido at St.Leonards. My sympathy is with those who lost faith and funds to its cause.
    Recovery of its valuable metal, then a complete redesign and new construction to include tidal and wave energy never even crossed the threshold of the Council’s clearly outsourced Hastings Development Renewable Energy Plan that would have put wind farms into SSIs and ANBs.

    To put this bleak plank into commercial profit needs activity also shelter; replace the boat platform; run Heli-tours of the 1066 country popularised by Nick Austin; create a community indoor venue for diversity of uses, even for the re-popularised ‘Strictly Come Dancing’.

    Icarus

    Comment by Keith Piggott (Icarus) — Sunday, Dec 3, 2017 @ 10:44

  2. DAR

    1. The pier needs a ballroom. This would mean that music concerts would not be at the mercy of the weather, and it would enclose noise to a large degree. And it would generate money. 2. Stakeholders should be given some sort of detailed breakdown of maintenance & operation costs.3. I also agree with other comments here e.g. more fee-paying events, and maybe front-of-pier turnstiles with a 50p entrance charge.

    Comment by DAR — Thursday, Nov 30, 2017 @ 14:04

  3. Bea

    I agree that the shareholder should be asked. There is massive support for the pier among them and many others – the last AGM saw hundreds of shareholders, amazing.
    The Administrator needs to get a few basics sorted out. I went for a coffee early-ish on Sunday morning. There was no indication that the Pavilion was open, in fact it looked closed. It was only when walking further that I saw staff behind the counter who waved their arms at me. That’s just ridiculous. You have an A-board: useit!!
    I was hoping for a quiet coffee in a sunny indoor space. No, there was quite loud bouncy music, really annoying. I asked them (twice) to turn it down. I swear they turned it up. I support the pier, but will not be going back in a hurry.
    They need more paying events, eg a Christmas market with fee to enter, or a demonstration of renewable energy also fee-paying. That could be wonderful. Pop concerts in the open air are not a good formula for income generation. Wind, cold and rain anyone?
    There has been too much emphasis on getting dogs onto the pier and not enough on talking to supporters about what they would like, and would pay for.

    Comment by Bea — Thursday, Nov 30, 2017 @ 11:42

  4. Ms.Doubtfire

    Beautiful and unique our pier may be but – you cannot run anything which requires upkeep and insurances without an income to pay for these essentials. How did the original Business Plan propose to meet these costs? Clearly it was approved by the Heritage Lottery people – so what went wrong here?
    Maybe it is time for the Foreshore Trust to step in and take on some responsibility for the pier.
    It would be utterly shameful if our pier was once again sold on to a third party and we find ourselves back to square one.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Tuesday, Nov 28, 2017 @ 13:32

  5. philip oakley

    It would be interesting to know the income figures to truly understand how much the pier is losing. Those figures would probably explain why none of the stakeholders will back the further investment wanted. If the board of directors really believed in their business plan then why is it unfair to ask the people of Hastings for further investment, to protect the investment they have already made.

    Whilst the design of the pier has won an award it does limit use of the pier after dark as security is required to provide access to the buildings. If the buildings had been placed at the entrance like other piers it could operate till late. Surely that is one of the key factors in generating income?

    It’s fantastic that the pier has been refurbished and perhaps it needs to be considered more as an extension of the promenade rather than as a single entity. The Foreshore Trust, which owns all the seafront from the pier to the Jerwood with huge parking and rental revenues, has the income purpose to perhaps take on responsibility for the piers future.

    http://www.hastings.gov.uk/my_community/foreshoretrust/who/

    Comment by philip oakley — Monday, Nov 27, 2017 @ 15:38

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