Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd has collated a list of FAQs in the wake of the pier blaze last week.
He said, “Many people have contacted me with regards to our beloved pier. There are a number of questions which are circulating and I thought it would be useful to provide some clarity.
“I have spoken to the council, emergency services and the Chamber of Commerce and below are the responses to some of the most frequently asked questions.
“Please bear with us, as this situation does develop very quickly. Rest assured, we will do all we can to keep you as up to date as possible.”
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1. What action has the town taken to coordinate the reconstruction of the pier and the aftermath of the fire?
As soon as the fire broke out, Stephen Lloyd MP called a meeting with the Council, Chamber of Commerce, Eastbourne Hospitality Association, The Eastbourne Herald, Council Officers, representatives from the emergency services and other key individuals to ensure that Eastbourne managed this devastating fire to our pier as efficiently, productively and positively as possible. The Committee met the morning after the fire (Thursday). As much of the coordination will be led by the Council, the MP proposed the two co-chairs of the Pier Committee be the Leader of the Council, Cllr. David Tutt and the Leader of the Opposition, Cllr. David Elkin. This was agreed.
2. Who owns the pier?
Cuerden Leisure are the owners of Eastbourne Pier. They brought it from Six Piers Ltd.
3. Were the Pier owners insured?
Yes. The pier owners have informed us that the pier is fully insured. Therefore, it is anticipated this will pay for re-construction once all the work has been completed by the structural engineers and the insurance loss adjustors.
4. How long is the police investigation likely to take?
The police investigation is likely to take a number of weeks but the pier has now been handed back to its owners. Ongoing security around the affected area to prevent any danger to the public will be managed by the pier company. The police have asked that anyone with photos or videos taken by the pier immediately before the fire is sent to pier. firstname.lastname@example.org quoting Operation Barsham or phone 101.
5. How long will it take before we know the full extent of the damage of the Pier?
Structural engineers will be examining the full extent of the damage over the coming weeks. As soon as we know more, the town will be informed.
Those Affected by the Pier fire:
6. What about the independent traders?
In the short term, the council will be in touch to offer spots at Airbourne free of charge. The Chamber of Commerce will be offering space at the weekly market on Wednesdays and Sundays also free of charge. For more information contact the Chamber on 01323 641 144. In the long-term, we are contacting landlords to see if pop-up shops can be made available from the empty shops in town. The council is also arranging mini-marquees on the front near the pier to house the concessions.
7. What about those who have lost their job on the pier?
Eastbourne Borough Council has a team of benefit advisors who should be able to assist. Their address is 1 Grove Road, Eastbourne, BN21 4TG. Additionally, the MP has contacted the Job Centre Plus to ensure they are fully aware of the situation. Their address is 2 St Annes Road, Eastbourne, BN21 3XX.
8. What about those who have a pre-booked event on the Pier?
In the first instance, the pier management should be in contact with you direct. The Council and Hospitality Association have offered to assist in finding alternative venues. We are all doing our best to ensure that no events are cancelled as Eastbourne rallies round.
Pier Benevolent Fund:
9. What’s the Pier Benevolent Fund for?
This is to help those people who have lost their job or businesses (kiosk owners) as a result of this tragic event. The Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce has agreed to manage the account in liaison with the council and the pier owners over the status of the affected employees and the kiosk holders, to ensure the money kindly given to the fund is allocated appropriately and safely. If you feel you are affected, please contact the Chamber on 01323 641 144 or visit their website: www.eastbourneunltd.co.uk
10. How can I/we raise money for the Eastbourne Pier Benevolent Fund?
Our town has stepped up to the plate as it always does and the offers to fundraise for the Benevolent Fund have come in thick and fast.
This is of course absolutely wonderful. As previously mentioned, the Chamber of Commerce are managing the fund itself. For ways of donating money please visit their website on www.eastbourneunltd.co.uk or call them on 01323 641 144. Cheques can be sent to their offices at The Chamber Office, 7 Hyde Gardens, Eastbourne, BN21 4PN and made payable to “Eastbourne Pier Benevolent Fund”. The generosity of our town is second to none but please do ensure proper measures are taken so that money raised is sent to the Chamber, so that it can be distributed appropriately.
11. Can I contribute to the Benevolent Fund Online?
Yes – please see the Chamber website. www.eastbourneunltd.co.uk
12. When will the £2m pledged by the government arrive and what’s it being spent on?
At a meeting chaired by Stephen Lloyd MP, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of Exchequer gave an undertaking that it would arrive as soon as possible. It was confirmed at the meeting that Eastbourne Borough Council would be managing the £2million fund. It is to be spent partly on assisting those people who have lost their jobs and livelihoods because of the fire and all funds required for this purpose will be passed onto the Pier Benevolent Fund. It will also be spent on marketing Eastbourne as being a town that is still very much ‘open for business’. They will be liaising with the key stakeholders to ensure the money is spent as effectively as possible.
13. Why can’t the £2m be spent on retaining core services at the DGH?
There have been a lot of comments online with regards to this which is perfectly understandable! Yet, they are two separate matters. The removal of consultant-led maternity from the DGH was one that the vast majority of us in Eastbourne and surrounding area did not agree with. However, it would neither be legal or appropriate for this money to be spent on the DGH, which is funded directly by the Health Service. Please rest assured, the cross-community Save the DGH campaign team continues to fight for our local hospital.
Rebuilding the Pier:
14. Will the Blue Room be rebuilt as it was, or something more modern put in its place?
The pier is a Grade ll* listed structure which brings some restrictions. The owners will work with the Council and English Heritage to design a fantastic replacement.
15. How long before we can use the pier again?
We are all determined to get the whole pier up and running as soon as possible.
However, as two thirds of the pier remain untouched, the committee is also in discussion with the owners and the safety experts to see if there may be a way for visitors to access the remaining structure. This is a work in progress and we will keep you informed.
16. How best can I support the pier?
By being supportive of what we are all trying to do. Remind everyone that Eastbourne is a tremendous place to visit and that we are well and truly open for business. Turn a tragedy into something good by showing the world that in Eastbourne, we all pull together!
Note: over the coming weeks as it becomes clearer to the future progress of the rebuilding of our pier, every effort will be made to keep local residents informed.