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‘We don’t need charities to run Hastings pier,’ says new owner

21 Jun 2018 News

Hastings Pier

Alex de Rijke

The new owner of Hastings pier has said charities should not be involved in running the site and that he aims to make it financially sustainable.

The sale of the pier, previously owned by Hastings Pier Charity, to Sheikh Abid Gulzar for £50,000 has met mixed response since it was announced last Friday.

In an interview with the Hastings Observer, Gulzar, who also owns Eastbourne pier, said he thought it was unnecessary for charities to be involved in the running of the pier.

He said: “One thing I want to make sure, for god sake, we don’t need charities. There are other deserving people who need charities. This pier, God-willing, we will not be working on charities.”

Gulzar said he wants to make sure that the pier generates enough money to cover staff wages and other expenses.

He said he wanted the pier to generate money in excess of this to spend on improvements to the pier. “All the money earned would be spent back here,” he said.

Response to negativity

Gulzar’s purchase of the pier has drawn criticism from some organisations including local group Friends of Hastings Pier, which had fundraised £477,000 in an effort to buy and run the pier.

But he said he wasn’t fazed by the response and compared his situation to Jesus Christ.

He said: “When Jesus Christ was there, there were more people also against him, and at that time there were less Christians and now there are a lot more Christians and a lot more who love and respect Jesus Christ.”

Gulzar said the pier would be open to the public on Friday and that he planned to hold meetings with local stakeholders and councillors soon.

Campaigners to challenge sale

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.

Friends of Hastings Pier said it is “exploring options to revisit Friday’s decision”.

It said: “We believe it is important that we can be confident that the decision was properly made and that the best bid was chosen.

“After all, in our final bid, we had £750,000 guaranteed investment, £450,000 funding in the pipeline and a plan for £1.6m fundraising in capital for a new building, and we think that was hard to beat.”

The group said it would close its current crowdfunding page and return the money to the donors.

However, it said some donors did not want their money back.

This money will be transferred to a reserve fund, which the organisation is setting up so it would be able to bid for the pier in future if an opportunity arose.

The organisation plans to set up a new crowdfunding page to raise money for the reserve fund.

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