Eastbourne Pier owner considers £2 admission charge

Sunset at Eastbourne Pier - photograph by Sarah Willingham
Sunset at Eastbourne Pier - photograph by Sarah Willingham

The new owner of Eastbourne Pier has moved this week to dispel what he calls a number of myths about his new purchase.

Abid Gulzar, who paid an undisclosed amount for the iconic seafront structure last month, said that while he is totally committed to making the pier great again, he says there are a number of issues which some people don’t understand.

He spoke out this week after he was quoted in an interview in a national newspaper at the weekend saying he might charge people £2 to go on the pier.

“I’m thinking aloud,” he said. “If we ask them for two pounds to enter I may give them free tea or coffee. I want them to feel welcome.”

After the interview Mr Gulzar, who also owns two seafront hotels, said, “It was a comment I made in reply to a question from the national newspaper reporter. I am not ruling anything in or out, why should I? I will not make the pier a burden on the good people of Eastbourne.

“I am here working hard seven days a week. We have to make the pier work financially, people must remember that.

“It is very much early days but people can already see my workmen working on the pier. I am not a multi-millionaire. There are no plans at the moment for charging but who knows. I am listening to people’s views all the time. I understand at least one other pier does charge. We will see.”

Mr Gulzar also said he is staggered by the number of residents who stop him to ask how he is going to spend the £2 million the Government donated after last year’s fire.

“The money was sadly not for the pier,” he said. “It was given to the council to spend in the way it seems most appropriate, and I must respect that. I have no say as to how the money is being spent, but I repeat it is not available to spend on the pier.”

Next, he says locals keep asking him about the millions of pounds in insurance after the fire.

“Again, it is not money that has gone to me,” he said. “It went to the previous owners.’

Finally he said he wanted the town to realise he is not part of a local government which can fund, and have access to, millions of pounds.

“I have chosen to buy the pier and I am proud to have done so,” said Mr Gulzar. “But I am not a multi-millionaire, I don’t have millions to throw around on the pier for projects.

“It is great that locals have come up with ideas, and I have listened to them all, but some of the ideas will cost millions and millions of pounds. I do not want anybody to be disappointed but it is all a matter of justifying the outgoings and the income. I must make sure the pier can pay for all the bills, including large electricity bills, lighting and council rates.

“I intend to do so but you must not expect everything at once. It will take time and I will try to keep everyone happy. I love the pier, the open space as you walk on is so nice, so relaxing and what Eastbourne is all about.”

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