Trade association ‘Co-operatives UK’ has said, due to rising maintenance and insurance costs, many of Britain’s oldest piers are at risk and as a result are ‘trapped in a cycle of neglectful ownership with only periodic attempts at conservation’.
Apparently 56 per cent of Britain’s 58 piers are (like what’s left of the dilapidated Bognor Regis edifice) privately owned, and 39 per cent owned by councils – the report goes on to say that most could be better run by local people, social enterprises or charities.
I have been saying exactly this for the past six years – ever since I first came to live here. Seemingly endless talk about the ‘Bognor Regis regeneration plans’ go on and on, with nothing really happening, and yet the two areas of the town most in need of actual ‘regeneration’ are the stony beach (which could once again attract millions of visitors if returned to its former sandy glory) and the centrepiece of any proper seaside town: the pier.
Fundraising, visitor levies, donations from businesses (such as the dominant Butlin’s), financial input from the council (and Arun) and even a small percentage from the income raised by events such as the carnival, the lights etc (all of which need to be better promoted too) and, of course, the Bognor Birdman itself, highlight of the town’s summer attractions and a real money-spinner (which might even stay at Bognor if the pier and seafront receive the attentions so desperately needed!).
Anyone agree with me?