A pier which was restored with more than £14m of charitable funding has been sold to a local businessman for £50,000, after the charity went into administration.
Hastings Pier Charity, a charitable industrial and provident society, went into administration in November last year. It had been given £12.7m of Heritage Lottery Fund money to rebuild the pier, which had been destroyed in a fire, and had raised hundreds of thousands from a community share offer. But it had not been able to raise another £800,000 to run the pier on a sustainable footing.
After it went into administration a local group, Friends of Hastings Pier, has been fundraising to obtain enough money to buy and run the pier, and has collected £477,000.
But Eastbourne hotelier Sheikh Abid Gulzar has acquired the pier for £50,000, although the administrators said he would need to invest another £1m to make the pier sustainable.
According to reports in national newspapers, the sale has not been supported by the local community.
“We are devastated but we are also furious,” James Chang, a spokesman for FOHP, is reported as having said. “Why would the administrators mess us about leading us to believe we have time and the chance to buy the pier if we haven’t?
“Everyone is very upset. We now have a lot of questions about how this was handled.”
Adam Stephens of Smith and Williamson, lead administrator, said: “The bid we received from Mr Gulzar, and on the recommendation of my agent, was able to best demonstrate the capacity to take the pier forward.
“Overall, Mr Gulzar demonstrated the best immediate financial capability as well as the operational capacity and experience, including from running Eastbourne Pier. It is anticipated that significant cash for working capital and investment purposes, amounting to over a million pounds, would be required to make the pier sustainable.”