Saving Hastings Pier – is the project dead in the water?

 ‘Everyone Loves
the Pier’ proclaim the few faded, dog-eared notices left around the town.Maybe, but love won’t last without
communication or any evidence of positive action.

     As a
newcomer to Hastings,
I can’t understand how the town is willing to put up with such a terrible,
depressing eyesore of burnt out wreckage dominating the sea-front.

     To me, a
seaside resort needs a pier, and I was initially delighted with the apparent
enthusiasm and energy of the HPWRT, and with the news about the initial grant
of lottery money.We visited the Pier
shop many times, and donated goods and money to help the cause.

     I was
surprised to read that the Council only issued a Compulsory Purchase Order for
the Pier just before Christmas, when the Lottery money had been awarded back in
August.How did anyone expect the
Lottery money to be used if ownership had not been sorted out?

     Now,
however, the campaign to fundraise and save the Pier now seems to be totally
dormant.

     The Pier
shop has closed – a very bad move, I believe, as it provided a focus for
fundraising, volunteering, action and information for local people and
visitors.The tatty notices on the Pier
gates are months out-of-date.How are
visitors now expected to find out what is going on?

     The HPWRT
website is also out-of-date – it still refers enquiries to the Pier shop.No new publicity or fund-raising events are
advertised, the photography competition finished in August, there is no news on
the Business initiative launched back in September, and the content feels old
and stale.

    The only
publicity that has appeared recently from HPWRT concerns the appointment of its
new Chief Executive, and now the recruitment of his assistant.As someone who has spent her working life in
the public and not-for-profit sectors, I am filled with foreboding.So often I have seen grant money frittered
away on staff salaries, overheads and meaningless business plans, while the
original project falls by the wayside. Many people make good careers in the voluntary
sector moving from project to project without actually achieving anything…. However busy the new CEO is, he needs to find
time for the essentials.

    I assume
the HPWRT has a Board of Trustees? They can’t now just sit back and trust that the
new CEO will fix everything. The Board is still in charge, needs to drive the
project forward, and needs to demonstrate its accountability to the people of Hastings.

    In order
for any further Lottery money to be awarded, the HPWRT must demonstrate that
local people are kept informed, are actively involved in the project, and have
a genuine desire to see their Pier restored.They must also demonstrate success in fundraising within the community –
even if sums raised are small, they will go some way to match Lottery grant.

   What
happened to the work done to collect ideas for the ‘People’s Pier’ back in the
summer (or was it the summer before?). That seems to have died, as does the
initiative supported by ‘Coast’ magazine for people to visit every pier in the
country to raise funds.

   The ‘Buy a
Plank’ scheme still seems to be current, but has had no recent publicity.

   What
support is the Council giving to the HPWRT?

    Burnt out
piers can be rebuilt successfully – look at Weston-Super-Mare.

    This is not
good enough!We either need to see
evidence of an energetic campaign to get the pier up and running, or else it
needs to be demolished and cleared away for good.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments from Google+