Abid Gulzar arrived in Britain from northern India in 1965 aged 19.  In a profile of him on the (national) Independent website in November 2015 at the time of his purchase of Eastbourne pier he told his interviewer that the epithet of “Sheikh” is a family name, not a title (think Duke Ellington). His family were in the tanning industry, and he came to study leather technology.

He seems to have made money importing and exporting leather and cotton before branching into the hotel trade.  At some point he became a British national, moved to Sussex and now at the age of 72 lives on Beach Road, Eastbourne.  The Independent described him as driving a gold-painted Mercedes and wearing outsize gold rings the size of knuckle-dusters.  Clearly he loves to make a publicity splash.

He bought the large and then dilapidated Chatsworth Hotel on Grand Parade, Eastbourne but sold it a few years ago:  for more on the questionable finances of this transaction, see our columns right.  The Lion chain of hotels which he now owns consists of the Mansion Lions and Albany Lions Hotels on Grand Parade and the Boship Lions Hotel in Lower Dicker outside Hailsham.  A glance at Tripadvisor shows that the two Eastbourne hotels are rated 36 and 37 out of 40 in the town, with plenty of favourable references to sea views but also to shabbiness, dirt and peeling paint. “Must have been nice once  – but not now”,  one reviewer concludes. The Boship ratings are even lower, epitomised by a recent disparaging review comment by a Ms Lucy T of Lewes recommending “More staff    less gold paint?”.

When he bought Eastbourne Pier, he told the Independent –  “My aim is not to generate money from the pier.  That will come from my farming, my hotels and my investments.  That is more than enough. I am owning the pier for personal pride.

We hope you have enjoyed reading this article. The future of our volunteer led, non-profit publication would be far more secure with the aid of a small donation. It only takes a minute and we would be very grateful.