The controversial owner of Eastbourne Pier has been ordered to stop painting the iconic site gold.
Sheikh Abid Gulzar, 70, bought the pier last year and now it has emerged that he is in hot water with Natural England and Eastbourne Borough Council after he started painting parts of the Grade Two listed building gold, including the cupola, otherwise known as the dome, plus 40 lions adorning the original ironwork.
Mr Gulzar said he cannot understand what the fuss is all about.
He said, “I have put my heart and soul into this pier. I have invested hundreds of thousands of pounds, yet still there is a minority of people who want to have a pop at me.
“Does it get me down? Well, sometimes it does but I know that I must rise above it. I am working seven days a week making Eastbourne Pier better.
“This weekend just gone was the second anniversary of the devastating fire on the pier. I fear that some people may have a short memory.
“I made a pledge when I bought the pier I would make it great again - and that is what I am going. It is taking a lot of time and costing a lot of money.
“I couldn’t see a queue of people at the time fighting to take on the pier. Well I did, and I did because I love Eastbourne, and I love the pier.
“Am I really doing something so badly wrong? I think not. I am putting a bit of character into the pier with the gold - it’s not like I have painted the whole pier gold for heaven’s sake - and most people tell me how nice it all looks.
“Once again it is a minority of people and I am very disappointed, but I will carry on, and I will carry on - I think - with the majority of people on my side.”
Eastbourne Borough Council has confirmed the owner should now submit a retrospective planning application.
Mr Gulzar said, “There are one or two people who would always complain but the majority of people are very happy. The footfall on the pier has almost tripled.
“For me it is a project of the heart. It was the most neglected pier in Britain but there has been a lot of work carried out. I am looking for the next generation to enjoy it.
“I am not scared to think outside the box. I’m not charging people. They are coming onto my investment free of charge.”
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