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Image: HPC.

Pier shares sale takes off

The sale of community shares in Hastings Pier is now under way as Hastings Pier Charity seeks to raise £500,000 to complete funding to secure the pier’s future. To date almost £100,000 has been committed, Nick Terdre reports.

The pier began its journey back to a new life following the transfer of ownership to Hastings Pier Charity in August, after which demolition of the damaged structure began. Restoration work is mainly being paid for by the £11.4 million provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund and £2.3 million raised from other public and institutional sources.

However, it was always the plan to have popular involvement in the People’s Pier, and the community share offer provides the opportunity for local people to get involved – and, importantly, have a say in deciding the pier’s future, according to HPC chairman John Lovering.

Shares went on sale on 5 October and will remain so until 4 January 2014. The minimum purchase is £100 and the maximum £20,000. By midday on 23 October 550 investors had committed to buy shares £98,180 worth, which works out at an average of £179 each.

At this time the sale was well on the way to securing the minimum sum necessary to ensure that shares will be issued. “The minimum requirement is £200,000, below which the scheme will not happen,” CEO Simon Opie told HOT. “The stated target is £500,000 and we will do all we can to reach this. The board can decide whether to activate the scheme between £200,000 and £500,000.”

One person, one vote

Assuming the scheme is activated, shareholders will have the right to attend HPC’s annual general meeting and vote at it – each shareholder, regardless of the number of shares held, will have one vote. The first AGM is likely to be convened in spring 2015, which is also the time when renovation of the pier should be finished.

“A community share is not like an ordinary share in an ordinary company,” Mr Lovering stresses. “You should not buy these shares to make a profit. You should not put in money which you cannot afford and which you might need back in a hurry. If you buy shares you should see yourself as a donor with a voice which will be heard.”

However, after three years the board plans to pay interest on the shares, initially at a rate of 3% – assuming finances allow it. Negotiations are also under way with HM Customs and Revenue to make share purchases eligible for tax relief.

 

HPC website.

Pier back in public hands.

 

Posted 14:38 Wednesday, Oct 23, 2013 In: Home Ground

Also in: Home Ground

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