Herne Bay Pier Trust Newsletter
Well, we have had a lot of coverage about the future of the pier in the local press over the last few weeks – some of it correct and some… rather misleading. So we thought our members would like to have the facts from the horse’s mouth.
As the editor of this newsletter and a new Trustee elected last September, I have no political associations or any past history with the Pier Trust so I promise you that what appears below is an open and honest communication to our members of where the Pier Trust stands, what we are doing and why we have chosen this way forward.
A small group of ex-Trustees are currently expressing their disagreement with a majority vote by the Board that we should work in partnership with the Canterbury City Council – a decision made after much debate and consideration of the pro’s and cons. They may ask the Chairman in the near future to call an EGM because they are questioning the Articles of Association drawn up when the Pier Trust was first set up as a charity which includes two council appointed Trustees on the Board. We have invited the members concerned to discuss these issues informally with the Board but we have already had one decline.
This summer is an opportunity to fulfil our first mission statement “Reclaim the Pier for the People” and we can best do this working with the Council. If we succeed to manage the pier efficiently, we have no doubt that they will hand the pier over to us in 2013 for the Rebuild stage. If we are forced to call an EGM, at a time when we are so busy trying to show what we are capable of, we would value your support please.
We have included various appeals for help in this newsletter as we would also like as many members as possible to play a part in developing our pier and working towards a longer future,
Wine and Wisdom
Our first Wine and Wisdom will take place at the King’s Hall on April 20th at 7.00pm with one every month thereafter. The King’s Hall caterers will be providing food and soft drinks – please bring your own bottle of wine. We are seeking really good quality raffle prizes to surprise you. Peter war will be our question master. To book a seat or a table of 8, at £8 a head, ring 01227 374420
Where we stand in the Trust…..
The first thing to state is that all 11 Trustees want, as much as all the members, to see a long pier stretching out to sea where we can walk out across the sea, turn round and look back at our lovely and often under-rated traditional seaside town. That is the reason we all joined the Pier Trust and are expending much of our spare time on it.
However, the challenging task of rebuilding of the pier has to be tackled in phases. It is totally unrealistic not to recognise that rebuilding one of the longest piers is a massive challenge with many pitfalls. We have to plan, cost out and find funding for every phase thoroughly and raising enormous sums of money in difficult financial times is not going to be easy. To achieve our ultimate goal of a long pier, we shall need something in the region of £20million and £40 million if it includes a marina and traditional pavilion(s).
When we hopefully take over management of the existing pier in 2013, it will be because the Trust has proved this year to the current owners that it has fit managers who can raise an income of over £56,000 a year just to maintain and run it. Currently, CCC spends this sum just to keep the under structure in safe order. If we are able to achieve our business plan this year, we are confident that we shall be able to take over the pier and its next phase next year.
So, we really do need members’ support – both in practical and professional skills and in volunteering to help – to run the lively programme of events we have planned and raise enough annual income to show we are competent to run the pier by ourselves. Come and play a part in winning back the pier….
Members’ skills register
If you have particular skills such as catering, entertainment, management, stewarding, first aid, van transport, design, container gardening, sales, accounting, computing, decoration or if you can just spare a few hours to help us supervise the events ……. Please get in touch with our chairman, Julian Jennings on….. or write to him to The Pier Gallery, Central Parade. Let’s make the pier a community effort – please join us this summer. We promise not to overwork you or take liberties! We welcome help from all ages.
The Trust’s Business Plan
Three weeks ago, a group of Trustees, met with the specific officers and councillor who have been given the pier in their remit and we presented the Pier Trust’s 2012 Business Plan to them. The meeting, despite previous reservations on our side, went well and we came away with a positive feeling that a new type of partnership has begun. The new brooms at CCC are as keen as us that we succeed and will give us a lot of support, e.g. to facilitate planning permission, legal requirements, risk assessments, leasing terms, concessionary arrangements, as well as the current structural maintenance of the pier. That is why for this first summer, we have voted that this is the best way forward – working together with the Council.
The business plan has taken a lot of hard work fleshing out ideas, costings, income, funding, health and safety and feasibility. The two local councillors, Joe Howes and Andrew Cook, whose position as appointed Trustees has been the root of much opposition, have actually put hours of work, way beyond the call of duty, into supporting Trust decisions.
Incidentally, the so called criticism by CCC of the Trust’s plans made an interesting headline in the local press based purely on one word in an executive report amid many other positive ones. The CCC officer chairing the meeting told us she had not even been contacted by the reporter and had made not a single critical statement.
A Brief Summary of the Business Plan
Once the pavilion has disappeared within the next two weeks, we need CCC to have a good quality multi-purpose surface put down. Until the demolition is complete, we are not allowed to go onto the pier to see what we will be left to work with. The Council have promised to make good the surface and work with us on preparing the pier for public safety. It may be that the varying floor levels left by the pavilion will prove useful as the basis for seating around the arena. We shall see in the latter half of April.
To meet the public preference for a traditional pier (see our survey results) we are hoping to add some attractive touches – rows of flags with solar uplighters, planters with the kind of plants Herne Bay in Bloom Society consider will stand up to the sea air, bunting made by the Herne Bay High Schoolchildren, a sun deck and café which so many residents requested as a must in the surveys. A recent TV advertisement for Homebase which featured a pier is an inspiration for ours.
The designs and events we are planning have all been based on the results of our public consultation exercises culminating in our stand at the Business Fair mentioned above. We have been very conscious that it is the pier belongs to the people of Herne Bay and we need to follow the peoples’ mandate……
Finding out what the people want on their future pier
The Trust has received the Herne Bay residents’ views and aspirations from a variety of sources –
- the survey printed by the Herne Bay Times in November,
- the same survey returned via the Herne by Trust website, and still coming into the Pier Gallery
- all the people we met at the Christmas Grotto ( we had 3000 visitors – Santa gave 650 presents to children)
- Trustees talking to local groups
The results show the following preferences of local people:
Results of surveys
- You would like a traditional pier with children’s rides, retro amusements, a big wheel or a helter-skelter, a sun deck and café, ice cream, sweets and sea-food stalls, child/parent telescopes and boat trips.
- The most popular activities or events you would like to see – farmers’ market, musical performances, film, roller-skating again, fishing, exhibitions, antiques market, dancing and bands
- Many good suggestions included a sea world centre, an eco information centre, an underwater viewing facility.
- Many wanted to see boat trips back again, angling from the pier, quality retail beach huts, sporting activities.
Therefore, on the strength of your replies,
During the summer, supported by CCC we are planning a series of events and activities.
- A film on the pier on a large screen in July – with dancing demos, music, refreshments
- A series of sports weekends in July and August for youngsters with demos and training from top professional footballers, cricketers and more
- A farmers’ market (s) – a very popular request
- A Spirit of the Sea music event in August – bands competitions and gigs to coincide with the Herne Bay Festival
- Maybe also an antiques market
- Concessionary roller-skating days during the holidays
- Concessionary sales tables of refreshments, traditional sweets and candy floss
Wine and Wisdoms
We are raising funds and will be running Wine and Wisdoms to cover each event. The first Wine and Wisdom will take place at the King’s Hall on April 20th at 7.00pm with one every month thereafter. To book a seat or a table of 8, at £8 a head, ring 01227 374420
The Beach Hut Village
During this year, the Trust will be applying for planning permission to build a row of traditionally decorated seaside beach hut sales booths. The income from these – maybe up to 14 of them – will bring in useful funds. Similarly concessions to selected traders running the café, ice-cream and sweets stands, candy floss, pancake and shell-fish stalls will also bring in funds.
If you are interested in renting a hut next year or applying for a concession to provide refreshments, please contact us. Either write to the Chairman, Julian Jennings, at the Pier Gallery, Central Parade. or email us via this website.
All of these plans will be a steep learning curve. The Trustees have already met the Fire Service for advice, consulted our insurance company, started to cover legal requirements such as necessary risk assessment and health and safety issues. We are also sourcing free training courses in crowd management, stewarding and first aid skills.
Again if you are trained in any of these skills please contact us. Your skills will be most welcome.
Also, if you have personal contact with any company who might be willing to sponsor an event or a flag, please let us know. All sponsors will be acknowledged – major sponsors will have a permanent plaque on the pier. Maybe you know a celebrity who would help us with publicity for the charity or open one of the events.
Phase 2 :
Looking further ahead, beyond 2012 – the Trust envisages gradually building on the pier– lengthening it seawards section by section. The diagrams you may have se en in the papers were early concepts presented to us by Trust member, David Parish. The idea was to have two covered all-weather areas – one for children’s activities and the other as an all-weather multi-purpose area for all year round skating, performance and exhibitions – and maybe weddings! These covered areas would lengthen the season for pier activities into the winter months. The further we go out, the better the fishing too! This stage will be open to much further public consultation.
Fishing permits, weddings, performances, exhibitions, markets would bring in further much needed income for building further out to sea.
For Phase 2, the Trustees are exploring many sources of funding – government, local, European, Lottery, private, corporate. The search is definitely on! All information is welcome to add to our trawl for big money.
Phase 3: The Long Pier
The Trust and CCC have already paid £19,000 for a long-term report on the feasibility of a long pier and/or marina and has committed a further £8,000 through sponsorship for a professional economic study on the options outlined by the first report and its economic impact on the town.
Despite the Trustees working on the short-term phase and 2012 events, a dedicated Rebuild team of Trustees are concurrently committed to overseeing the rebuild of the long pier.
How we organise ourselves
As well as these two sub-groups of Trustees, each of the 2012 events listed above has a lead Trustee working with his/her team on each event. We now have a very well structured organisation. Anyone who has time and would like to join any of the teams working on one of the events listed above will be most welcome – we need all the help we can get.
What else have we been doing?
Thank you for your support of Santa’s Grotto which was open for three weekends up to Christmas Eve in the bandstand. We had 650 children queuing under the snow from the snow machine to receive their present from Santa. We had children’s entertainers there and the face-painting went down well. It was a good opportunity for the trustees to meet the members and discuss the plans.
During the school days we had hundreds of schoolchildren singing during the lunchtimes and in the evenings Trustee David Shepherd organised a variety of quality musical events. Over the three weeks we had over 3000 visitors.
The Schools’ Art Project
Sponsored by Southern water and KCC, Sue Austen and Lynn Faux-Bowyer ran a massive project which involved five local primary schools. They arranged art workshops with an artist and the children produced hundreds of lively, imaginative and beautiful paintings on the themes of the seaside, the pier and sea creatures.
Herne Bay High pupils expressed their feelings for the seaside and the pier through dozens of imaginative sculptures. The project culminated in an exhibition in the Pier gallery and the new art gallery at the King’s Hall judged by Southern water, a local artist and MP Roger Gale. Prize-giving took place on 23rd of March. The project enabled us to meet and gather views from children, parents and teachers about the future of the pier.
The Pier Gallery
The Pier Gallery has become a hub for information and fund-raising. Friendly volunteer staff will make you welcome at weekends and there is always a lively exhibition of paintings and art on show. The latest exhibition is …..(Andrea to flesh out please)
The Trust has raised a significant amount of funds through its recycling can campaign. The can collection points will be augmented by a paper-recycling collection point. New can bins are being placed in the Memorial Park near the toilets.