LETTER: Golden pier looks glorious

I was pleased to learn that Sheikh Abid Gulzar has been granted retrospective planning permission for the gold paintwork on his pier. It looks glorious in the sunlight and even on duller days the gold domes stand out against a grey sky and gives the pier some profile.

As for the gold lion heads, they are brilliant and probably went largely unnoticed when they were cream. Everyone is entitled to their view, but the constant antagonistic and disrespectful remarks about Mr Gulzar’s personal tastes for things gold-coloured is disquieting. I see it almost as his corporate mark, something akin to the blue and cream so much admired in Eastbourne.

I understand the basis for nostalgia, also that the pier is a Grade II* Listed structure and I imagine that future changes will be approached in the required manner.

Those who yearn for the past should remember that in the 140-year plus history of the pier there have been many changes. Many have enhanced the visitor experience, others were period modernisation and damage repair. So how far does one want wistfulness to go back?

When the pier first opened to the public the entrance fee was 2d (tuppence), roughly equivalent to 1.5p. Today the economic value of that 2d is £12.30. The earlier suggestion by Mr Gulzar that he was considering an entrance fee seems eminent business sense to me – why should anyone expect it to be free? The structure needs maintaining and he is not a charity.

On that subject, it is well known that he supports and holds events for various charities which he publicises, not for his own ego, but because that’s how people get to know and support the events. There are charitable things that he does about which only those recipients of his generosity know, that I can witness to.

As for the sign, thanks for visiting the ‘Sheikh’s Pier’, what a cracking pun. If Eastbourne Borough Council let Mr Gulzar take over the gardens to the west of the pier, I suggest he might rename them, The ‘Magic’ Carpet Gardens. Have fun.

As a finale, the last laughable paint job in Eastbourne was around the War Memorial – not at all funny, but it did have something to do with the council.

Paul Woolmer

Wannock Drive, Polegate

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