Council putting case together to unlock windfall

Sunrise at the pier, taken by Dave Lee
Sunrise at the pier, taken by Dave Lee

Prime Minister David Cameron has requested a regular progress report on Eastbourne Pier following his visit to the town two days after the devastating blaze.

He pledged £2 million to reduce the impact the pier closure has had on Eastbourne’s tourism and to help traders whose businesses were affected by the fire.

A business case is currently being prepared by Eastbourne Borough Council to unlock the funding.

The council has already contributed £50,000 from its reserves to the Eastbourne Pier Benevolent Fund and they envisage that the sum will be recouped from Mr Cameron’s government grant.

Decisions on how awards will be distributed will be published on the council website.

None of the money is expected to be spent on repairing the pier as it is privately-owned and believed to be insured.

At a cabinet meeting on Wednesday evening, councillors heard that the case was a condition to secure the much-needed windfall.

The detailed document will outline arrangements to ensure fair, transparent and effective distribution of the money to support the town’s tourism economy in the aftermath of the fire at the pier.

Councillors also authorised the setting up of an advisory panel comprising members from across the political parties, representatives from local businesses and community groups, supported by key council officers.

The panel will give input to council decision-making on how the funds are spent, in line with assessment requirements to be later set by the Government.

At the meeting, cabinet members also formally recorded their thanks to emergency services for their prompt action and bravery.

They are compiling regular updates, the first of which has already been sent to the Prime Minister.

It details fundraising efforts, steps taken to assist traders and plans to re-open parts of the pier that escaped damage by the final quarter of 2014.