Community bid requires £500,000 by end of May. Emma Harwood reports

An urgent fundraising drive has been launched by community group Friends of Hastings Pier (FOHP) to back their proposals to reclaim ownership of the award-winning structure. Representatives of the group are set to meet with the pier’s administrators Smith and Williamson ( S & W) next Friday (11th May) to discuss their plans. Contrary to recent reports that the group had been given just a few days in which to raise a minimum £1 million, S & W have since indicated that no deadline for raising the funds is imminent and that no decision about the pier’s future has yet been taken. However FOHP have been told they must act swiftly to come up with enough cash for their bid to be a serious consideration,  demonstrating their capacity to raise an initial £1.2 million to cover the pier’s losses over two years.

PICTURE: Suzie McFie

According to Richard Baldwin of GVA, the property agents responsible for finding a buyer for the pier, whose administration costs are being underwritten by the Heritage Lottery Fund until November, there are other offers “on the table”.  He said that FOHP were being given “the courtesy of trying to put more meat on their offer    but they have to realise that the administrators are every day costing more money and it’s not a bottomless pit, so FOHP have to demonstrate to us that they can comfortably operate the pier, covering salaries, costs, insurance, everything that goes into running that sort of asset. And it has to be within a reasonable timescale, otherwise we jeopardise the other bids.”

The group launched a Crowdfunder page last Thursday (26th April) with the aim of accumulating £500,000 by 31st May. Around £100,000 has already been pledged on paper but the group – which plans to raise the rest of the £1.2 million through grant funding – is now urging all those who’ve pledged that money to visit the website and convert it into real funds online. If the group does not hit its end of May target, or if its bid is unsuccessful, the funds, which will be held in a Crowdfunder account, will be returned.

Spokesperson for FOHP Jess Steele said:  “A decision is going to be made soon and we need the £1.2 m for our bid to be taken seriously.

What we’re trying to do is raise that fund now, both for perception (to get the bid agreed) and for the actual work that will then need to be done.  If we could get a substantial amount of the £500,000 by 11th May, then when we go to see the administrators we could be really proud and really quite confident.”

To help fund FOHP’s bid visit the Crowdfunder page here

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