Over 200 Hastings locals including secretary of staffer work and pensions Amber Rudd MP, attended a demonstration outside of Hastings Pier over the weekend to show their love for the award winning structure.
The procession of protestors, who rallied under the title ‘If You Love The Pier, Join The Queue’, formed in single file at the pier gates to highlight disquiet over its temporary closure – which is scheduled to last until March.
The group said: “A family (and dog) friendly community gathering to demonstrate: that we love Hastings Pier and want it to be part of our community; that we are not happy about being shut out of it after so many people worked tirelessly to save it and bring it back to life.
“The pier has been part of our lives since it reopened in 2016 and we have invested our money and our time in its restoration.”
To the surprise and probably relief of the seaside town, new owner Abid Gulzar was there to greet them.
And schmooze them too. In an official statement Gulzar pulled out the stops to reassure the pier’s sup- porters. “I was delighted to meet so many passionate people who came out to support Hastings Pier today,” he stated. “It was a great opportunity to meet local residents, local Councillors including the Leader of the Council Councillor Peter Chowney and finally the local MP The Rt. Hon. Amber Rudd.”
And he had something to report back to them, as he confirmed: “Today’s meeting outside the pier demonstrated support from people who are clearly looking forward to the pier reopening before Easter. Today I have been assured by the Leader of the Council; his assurance to hasten our validated applications to assist with an earlier opening once all works have been completed.”
There was more by way of commitment to the pier. Gulzar was definitive about delivering for the community. “I have also given my word in front of the Member of Parliament and Leader of the Council that I will never implement a general admission charge for Hastings Pier and that it will remain the same for Eastbourne Pier. I have always considered the opinions of Eastbourne and Hastings residents important and will not be happy until residents are satisfied.”
It was an unusual protest, not least because of the unity from all sides, something which Gulzar was quick to highlight: “I am pleased to note the support received today from the MP and Councillors from both the Labour and Conservative parties. I love Hastings and Eastbourne very much and only want the best for both towns , my vision for the piers are achievable and this is the result I want which is two of the best Piers in the United Kingdom. “
The Hastings Pier purchase by Gulzar has had its share of opponents since it was announced last year, with the most vociferous coming from the Friends of Hastings Pier group who themselves had overseen a calamitous period of community ownership. On his arrival Gulzar stressed his dedication to bringing life back into the architectural award-winning site which had done away with all amusements as part of its ill-fated renovation.
Gulzar’s weekend intervention seems to have restored faith in the aspirations for the venue. Social media postings came in their dozens, a large number offering up warm words for the ‘sheikh’.
Grahame John Boreham posted: “We now have a owner who is pre- pared to put his money where his mouth is, unlike the last lot who just took all the money and left the pier.” Stephen Prosser voiced a similar view: “Great positive post Hastings pier. Ignore the usual idiots who will have it in for you whatever you do.” Julie Taylor described Gulzar’s news as “wonderful”, although a George Vorkas was less generous advising that “I will not be visiting to play stupid gaming machines, as for that horrible pipe music it’s enough to put anybody off.”
Further proof that you can’t please all of the people all of the time.