A popular fishing business is set to close after being told it cannot renew its lease by the new owner of Eastbourne Pier.
A&T Tackle is expected to close its doors next February as the pier’s new owner – Sheikh Abid Gulzar – begins repair work on the pier.
Arran Aghili, who took over the business seven years ago, said he was very disappointed by Mr Gulzar’s decision.
He said, “I met with him [Mr Gulzar] on Tuesday and he told me we wouldn’t be able to renew our lease in February as he wants to begin ‘major works’ at the end of the pier.
“I asked if we could move to another shop further down the pier while the works were going on but he wouldn’t listen to me.
“I had lots of suggestions of how we could keep the business open but he wouldn’t listen.
“I’m really disappointed. I’ve worked really hard to build up the business and its reputation over the past seven years and now its gone.
“People have been coming here to fish all their lives.”
The decision has proven unpopular with anglers from Eastbourne who say closing the fishing platform will end a tradition, which is as old as the Victorian pier.
A petition started by Mr Aghili has gathered more than 925 signatures, calling on Mr Gulzar to renew the business’s lease in February.
Mr Gulzar said one of the first actions when he bought the pier was to give priority to Public Safety. The end of the pier has raised serious health and safety issues which he must address.
“I have had a meeting with this gentleman, and it was very friendly, I did not realise there was any animosity on his part. He did not raise any objections with me. But let me be clear – some of the area at that end of the pier is very dangerous. It has been neglected in the past, and as the new owner it is my job to take full responsibility for this.
“I would not be doing my job properly as the new owner if I did not take this action. We are all very well aware of the fatality on the Pier last year and I would not like anything of this nature to be repeated.
“I have told him if he wishes then he can stay until February, which is the date of his annual contract renewal, but then sadly it has to change, and it has to change for safety reasons. I do hope people understand that.
“This is part of the massive investment I am putting into Eastbourne Pier. People tell me that is what they want, and part of the major works and the major investment will be at that end of the pier for jetty and other activities.
“I think it can be very dangerous. When the weather was very bad on Tuesday with 50-60mph winds I took the decision to close the pier. I didn’t want to because it is my business but it was the right decision for public safety.
“I am being a responsible owner here, nothing more. I honestly believe the current practice is very risky and substantial repairs are needed. One post is almost falling into the water, that cannot continue.
“I do not want to upset anybody. I care about people. But I have to do what is right for public safety.”
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