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Pier pressure

At long last Canterbury City Council has described its vision for the future of our Pier. In a word: short.

Some of the trustees of the Pier Trust have been angling for a new Pier for years, if not decades. All of the trustees have given generously of their time and expertise. They have drawn together a wealth of national and international experts to produce first rate proposals and business plans which they presented to our Council.

CCC dismissed them, and now we know why.

The Council was instrumental in setting up the Pier Trust, providing £5,000 of funding in the first year. This £5,000 was important, as it allowed the Pier Trust to register for charitable status. In exchange for the start-up funding, CCC insisted on having two councillors on the board of trustees.

In an ideal world, these two councillors would have provided a direct line of communication with the Council, thus speeding up the decision-making and smoothing progress. More recently, however, they seem to have been used as a way of keeping an wary eye on the Trust, dampening expectations, and limiting options.

The inevitable frustration with lack of progress led to some of the dedicated and hard-working volunteers resigning from the Trust. Unsurprising – there’s a limit to how long anyone will bang their head against a wall. And the Council had the nerve to publicly badmouth the Trust and the trustees.

And now we know why. The Council, our Council, never intended to rebuild the Pier.

The Pier Trust’s clearly stated objective has always been to rebuild the Pier. The Council’s representatives on the board of trustees didn’t support the Trust’s goal, but undermined and stifled it. We’ve seen how effectively Canterbury City Council has been when raising money for projects in Canterbury (Beaney, Marlowe). No such efforts were made for this project in Herne Bay.

Click HERE to read an excellent response to the Council’s criticisms of the Trust, and a few well-placed criticisms of the Council. The splendid Kim Hennelly cut to the chase with her characteristic directness, and asked Cllr Gilbey (Leader of the Council) whether CCC ever intended to rebuild the Pier. Here’s the reply:

Mrs Hennelly

I am writing in response to your email of 7 March 2012 regarding the future of Herne Bay Pier and the council’s intentions in this regard.

The council does not have any current intention of rebuilding the pier itself, our Corporate Plan pledges to improve the sea front and the current pier platform.

The Herne Bay Pier Trust was set up so that a business plan could be developed by the Trust working with the people of Herne Bay. The council is supporting this process by helping the Trust to develop its business plan during this year and to deliver events and activities on the pier platform for the 2012 season. We expect the Trust to pursue rebuilding or extending the Pier if they consider that to be right.

Regards

Dawn Hudd CMgr, MIED
Deputy Head of Culture & Enterprise
Canterbury City Council

So there you have it.

The Council is happy to knock down the Pier – which needed to be knocked down because it had been so cheaply maintained over the years that demolition became cheaper than continued patching. The Council is happy to splash down some tarmac and let us have “events and activities” on it.

But if the Trust wants to rebuild the Pier, they’re on their own. I think the Council, our Council, should have made that clear from the very beginning.

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No comments

  1. Phil, this is a brilliantly concise summary. Congratulations to Kim for keeping on with the questions. As this week's Times article has revealed, the Council seem to find increasing pots of money to take things away, but there's nothing to put anything new in its place.

  2. Graham Cooper

    As a former Pier Trustee I have long suspected that this was the Council's stance but until now every time I asked the question I did not get a response. To be frank I feel cheated and totally misled by the Council. Had they have made their position clear from the outset I, and I suspect most other Trustees, would never have volunteered and certainly not put in 100s of hours over the past three years attempting to deliver a sound business plan for rebuilding.Given Dawn Hudd's statement, one could be forgiven for theorising that perhaps the Trust was only set up to offer false hope to the people of Herne Bay for a rebuilt pier so that the pavilion demolition could be carried out without too much public outcry. Surely not, will no doubt be the response, but if CCC had no intention of rebuilding the pier why set up the Pier Trust with rebuilding as one of its key objectives? Answers (polite ones only please) on a postcard.I suspect that this Dawn Hudd's revelation will leave the Trust in a very difficult position as to its charity status as clearly, without full council support as the landlord for the pier, it will be impossible to meet its third key aim of rebuilding. I hope the Trust issues a statement to the members quickly to clarify their position and how they intend to proceed.

  3. I feel utterly betrayed and deliberately mislead by Canterbury City Council and over a sustained period of time. From the very first Trust meeting, when I asked the attending officer what funds would be made available by CCC for the rebuild of the pier and he avoided answering (3 times), I was convinced then that CCC had absolutely no intention of rebuilding the Pier. It has taken three very persistent years of contact with the Council to finally get their admission.I feel angry that Trustees have pointlessly devoted so much of their personal time into what has been an unforgivable "set up" by the Council. The role of the two Councillors, whom the Council insisted on being included on the board of trustees, must also be questioned. All should be held accountable for their appalling actions and I intend to make a formal complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman.Anybody interested in joining or supporting the complaint, please do get in touch.An utter, utter injustice to the people of Herne Bay

  4. Geoff Wimble

    Terribly sorry people have consistently Asked everybody to view the area action plan A.A.P. everybody dissmissed this as unlikely for this week Dawn Hudd to confirm the councils decisions that their sole interest was the development of the surrounding area to the pier like New Brighton so you have a fight ahead as did Weymouth as usual this council should be considered as dangerous to your future health and wealth the appointment of Mr.Rynne who was a contributor to the demise of Margate telgraphed that, none of you look for reason and do not look carefully at published paperwork as with all its not what is spoken but what is hidden within and not picked up !!!!

  5. any other town in the country there would have an outcry pulling down a sound sea side pier that I believe was making profit (unlike the new marlow in canterbury)the people of whistable would not have put up with thisall the money stays in canterbury, all herne bay gets is herne bay in bloomthis town is being run down