Two years on from Eastbourne Pier fire

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Today marks the second anniversary of the devastating fire which destroyed a third of Eastbourne Pier.

A blaze broke out on the seafront structure on the afternoon of Wednesday July 30 2014.

Firefighters from across the county battled the inferno but the iconic Blue Room arcade was destroyed along with a number of shops in what police believe was an arson attack.

Despite a lengthy police investigation, nobody has ever been brought to justice for the fire and the file remains open.

Since the blaze, the seafront landmark has had a chequered history.

There was no legal obligation by the pier owners at the time Cuerden Leisure to replace the Blue Room and a bid to put children’s fairground rides on the site was turned down by Eastbourne Borough Council’s planners.

It was then sold by Cuerden Leisure late last year to Eastbourne hotelier Sheikh Abid Gulzar for an undisclosed sum.

He has been refurbishing the pier in recent months, installed a new arcade with games and amusements and work has also started on repairing the Camera Obscura at the end of the landmark, paid for with some of the £2 million the government pledged in the aftermath of the 2014 fire to boost tourism.

Mr Gulzar recently hit the headlines when he banned cyclists and dogs from the pier and people can no longer bring on refreshments purchased elsewhere.

At the time he said, “I am not anti-dog in any way but it must be said we have had problems with owners not picking up their dog’s mess and that is very unhygienic and completely unacceptable.

“We sadly have also had dogs out of control running around and there have been a number of incidents where my customers have been frightened and upset. There have been times when elderly people have fallen because of these dogs. I am determined the pier will be relaxing and tranquil and a nice environment for everyone. We can’t have this kind of behaviour from some people.

“I am trying to make this the pier for the people of Eastbourne, and I believe it is working. I am genuinely getting so much positive reaction and nice comments. The pier is looking great. My team and I are working hard seven days a week to make it a great pier.”

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