Well, common sense prevailed at the Eastbourne Borough Council planning meeting and Sheikh Abid Gulzar was granted permission, albeit grudgingly, to paint the two globes gold on his pier.
Yes, that’s right – his pier. And yet to all intents and purposes the council act as if it belongs to them. They refuse to pay a penny towards its maintenance or enter into discussions with Mr Gulzar about its future – a theatre maybe or a children’s funfair? – yet are happy to profit from the number of people who visit Eastbourne and enjoy strolling down the pier taking in the spectacular views across the south coast and the downs.
The pier is arguably the town’s most iconic and recognisable landmark. ‘How do I get to the pier?’ is one of the most frequently asked questions at the visitors’ information centre, so why won’t EBC recognise its historical, cultural and social importance and support Mr Gulzar by making it an even greater tourist attraction?
Let’s face it, there’s not a lot attractive about Eastbourne at the moment with its shabby rows of derelict buildings, boarded-up shops, filthy pavements, endless scaffolding and a closed theatre.
Before Mr Gulzar bought Eastbourne Pier, it was a neglected, dilapidated, hazardous wreck in danger of being shut down but I don’t recall EBC harassing previous owners Cuerden Leisure and demanding any structural or aesthetic repairs, even though it was an embarrassing eyesore.
Mr Gulzar made a pledge to the people of Eastbourne that he would restore the pier to its former glory and he has honoured that despite petty opposition and lack of public funds. Isn’t it time that EBC and the people of Eastbourne started supporting Mr Gulzar and maybe this time next year Eastbourne will be awarded the coveted and deserved title of Pier of the Year?
The Grove, Ratton