Much has been said and written about last week’s sale of Eastbourne Pier to flamboyant hotelier Sheikh Abid Gulzar. But something has been bugging me for some time now and it has nothing to do with whether he paints it gold or covers it from head to foot in sparkling fairy lights – although I hope he doesn’t. It’s the fact that after last year’s fire there was no obligation whatsoever for the Blue Room to be rebuilt. Crown Entertainment Centre, which sold the pier, did not have to replace the iconic building. Nor will Mr Gulzar. What concerns many people now is what the widely reported £10million insurance payout the former pier owners received, after the devastating blaze, was spent on. When original owners Six Piers sold the seafront landmark to Crown Entertainment the pier had a price tag of £5.5 million. You can bet your bottom dollar Mr Gulzar paid less than £5.5million. That means Crown possibly made quite a tidy sum because – and I am no mathematician – while the cost of replacing the foundation structures and laying decking may run in to hundreds of thousands, it certainly didn’t cost millions. It seems completely wrong that insurance money intended for the pier rebuild has disappeared over the horizon leaving many questions unanswered and the town wondering whether we will have a new Blue Room back where it once was, or, a structure boasting four legs, a long tail and lots of sharp teeth? Whatever the future holds for the pier, it will certainly be interesting with Mr Gulzar in charge.
The scale of the cuts in adult social services unveiled this week is truly shocking as East Sussex County Council tries to save money it will no longer be getting from the government. Sheltered accommodation, mental health services, homeless people, troubled youngsters. You name it, it’s for the chop. These highly vulnerable people will have nowhere to go.