Minister ‘impressed’ by Bognor Regis pier proposals

Government minister Mark Francois visits Bognor Regis pier
Government minister Mark Francois visits Bognor Regis pier

PIER supporters had the chance to show their plans for its future when a government minister visited Bognor Regis.

The members of Bognor Pier Trust and the Friends of Bognor Pier took the chance to state their vision for the historic landmark to Mark Francois.

Mr Francois, the minister for communities and local government, spent 30 minutes at the pier.

Bognor Pier Trust chairman Paul Wells said Mr Francois had a good look around the pier which celebrated its 150th birthday last May.

“He was impressed with the work the trust is doing.

“We spoke to him about the coastal communities team and the work we are doing towards this in the autumn.

“He met some of the Trust’s members and the Friends and was also shown around our building, Pierpoint.

“He also had the chance to look at some of the inside of the pier as well.

“He was impressed with some of the interior development that is going on from the owner, John Ayers.”

Mr Wells pointed out the pier’s revival was seen as part of a wider regeneration of Bognor.

He explained the trust’s aim of buying the pier from Mr Ayers, securing the seaward end and ensuring the rest can survive for generations.

Mr Francois was keen to see the pier after he met Mr Wells at a House of Lords reception last month and he spoke to him about the town.

Mr Francois walked from the station, through the London Road precinct and across the Place St Maur to reach the pier.

“He could certainly see how important the pier is to Bognor seafront,” said Mr Wells.

The trust is working with Arun District Council to bid for up to £50,000 from a £3m revival fund from the government’s Coastal Communities team this November.

If successful, the funding will pay for architects’ fees and other supporting work towards the £5m bid the trust will make from the lottery’s National Heritage Fund enterprise scheme.

This was due to have been made this month but Mr Wells said it was likely to be put back until next year.

“It’s important to get this bid right,” he said.

“We will only get one chance at the money and we make sure we have the best opportunity possible.

“The pier has been here for 150 years and we want to make sure it can survive for another 150.”

Jan Malpas, the Friends’ chairman, said: “It’s fantastic to get the minister here.

“We are getting a high level of support.

“The fact we are getting know in government circles as well is fantastic.”

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