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Our Council must support the Pier Trust

An open letter to CCC from the Pier Trust’s ex-Treasurer Jason Hollingsworth and ex-Chairman Graham Cooper:

In light of all the recent Council criticism of the Pier Trust in the press, as past Trustees we feel compelled to respond and set the record straight.

Firstly and perhaps rather tellingly, our first observation is astonishment that CCC should level any criticism at the Trust at all, after all the Pier Trust is a community organisation and if the council considers there are deficiencies why has CCC not done the right thing and wholeheartedly got behind the Trust and to support it and help to rectify those supposed failings.

After all, CCC does have two council appointed Trustees on the board! Perhaps this would have been a more constructive approach and a far better one, than simply to sitting back and sniping. Indeed, looking back to the last Pier Trust Annual General Meeting, as we recall, one of the councillor Trustees presented the assembled members with all the plans he envisaged for use of the pier in 2012. What has happened to them? Perhaps that is where any criticism should be directed.

Since its inception, the Trust has continued to attract very committed, high calibre individuals to help and advise it. Many of the Trustees regularly put in hundreds of hours per year unpaid to work solely for a better future for Herne Bay and should be lauded for doing so.

The Trust has produced several sound ideas and organised numerous successful events, Party on the Pier – a huge all day event that offered free roller skating and entertainment for the whole of Herne Bay, the Christmas Grotto, events at the Herne Bay Festival and the Herne Bay schools arts project to name but a few, all of which happened with little or no assistance from CCC.

Throughout 2011 the Trust participated in a joint working group with CCC and from our experience the key difficulty was getting clear and consistent answers from the council as to their plans, ideas and funding. If any criticism is to be levelled at the Trust, it can surely only be lack of resource. The problem has never been lack of experience or commitment.

In our view, the Trust has never been effectively or adequately supported by the Council. Indeed that is at the core of why so many Trustees have stood down in the past few years. This is in stark contract to Hastings, where with the full support and help of the local council, the Trust has been able to obtain considerable funding to produce its long term business plan.

To truly deliver on the expectations of the Trust’s members and the Town as a whole, full and effective support from the Council is essential. We know that the Trust has done all it can to move things forward in a constructive and professional manner.

Perhaps the Council now needs to do its part by addressing the confused relationship between the Trust and the Council and replacing it with an open, honest and effective partnership agreement with clear responsibilities and objectives for all concerned. We truly hope that this will be forthcoming as without it the Pier Trust’s objectives both short and long term will be completely unachievable.

Jason Hollingsworth

Graham Cooper

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