Council Serves Control Notice, Gulzar Woos MP
Following months of complaint from local critics that the owner of the pier, Sheikh Abid Gulzar, and his management company Lions Hastings Pier Limited were failing to comply with planning conditions, building control officers of Hastings Borough Council convened a meeting with him on 17th January. The outcome was an apparent agreement as to outstanding breaches and a timetable for remedying them set out in a formal enforcement notice.
In short, the following infringing installations, equipment and signage were to be removed from the pier by 3rd February:
• Storage and waste containers
• Advertisements on the deck café and front railings including the Skinners shed banner
• Lions amusement signs on the Visitor Centre
• Arcade machines in the shop area
• Poles supporting the illumination of the ice-cream hut and pavilion
• The moth art installation
• The smoking deck
Some signage, including the Skinners banner, has indeed been removed. But other items remain. Mr Gulzar’s PR representative ‘Lord’ Brett Maclean argues that most of the infringements were already occurring under the previous ownership of the Hastings Pier Charity before it went into administration in November 2018, and that it is “unfair and unjust” to enforce compliance now. Moreover, removal of the cooler unit at the near corner of the pier would have a detrimental impact on the operation of the pavilion, while the original design lacked a storage area for refuse. Loudspeakers, he says, are needed for health and safety reasons.
It appears likely that some, if not all, of the issues could be resolved by Mr Gulzar and his associates submitting a properly drawn application with an overall scheme of design and decoration – but this isn’t something that he seems in any hurry to do.
He is clearly much keener to garner positive publicity. He and Mr Maclean recently posed themselves alongside newly elected MP for Hastings & Rye, Sally-Ann Hart, in a photo opportunity for the Hastings Observer, where she described the pier to them as “a wonderful asset to the borough’s tourism industry and a real gem in the crown of our coastline”. Mr Gulzar gushed in turn: “Mrs Hart has a clear vision and will be of great value to the business community”.
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