Rebuild pier or I’ll ‘jump ship’: Trust founder vows to quit unless structure is restored.
A founding member of the trust set up to preserve Herne Bay’s pier has vowed to quit if there is no progress towards rebuilding it within a year. Arcade boss Michael Khoury spoke out at the first annual meeting of the Herne Bay Pier Trust, and said he was determined to make their dreams of restoring the structure a reality. He also revealed the group hoped to buy the pier from owners Canterbury City Council for the nominal sum of £1. Mr Khoury said:
“If this end is going to be all we have of the pier I would jump ship yesterday. I want that pier to be done somehow I would like the council to build it for us but unfortunately that’s not going to happen. But I will stand down next year if the rebuild is not going to happen.”
The decision to try to buy the pier was made a few months ago and the group is now preparing a business plan to help their case and attract more funding. Mr Khoury said:
“As a businessman, I know what is good and what doesn’t make money. I want that pier to be done somehow. We have to have a central attraction. We know we can make it work but we must have all the power to do it ourselves.”
Mr Khoury also revealed the lack of progress so far had forced trust chairman Graham Cooper and fellow founding member Andy Newell to consider standing down from the group, set up by Canterbury City Council. But Mr Cooper, who took over as chairman from solicitor Stephen Parry just before last week’s meeting, said the mood within the trust was now positive. He said:
“Our ambition is to get a full built pier and a first class attraction for the town. If we can get the right level of inward investment we can get the best for our beautiful town. I am feeling convinced we are going to do it. None of us would sit here if we didn’t think we had a chance. But it is the membership we need. More people to support us. We have an open mind about the physical structure of the pier. We all agree we want a rebuilt pier structure. We are not going to do that overnight but that is what we are aiming for We want inward investment and public finding and then the ideas will come.”
More members needed for project
Fewer than 120 people have signed up to support the rebuild of Herne Bay pier. Now leaders of the group set up to oversee its regeneration are appealing to others to join them to guarantee its future as a tourist attraction. Members of the Herne Bay Pier Trust hope to take management of the pier from the council and see 2012 as the key date to start its regeneration, once the sports centre has moved, leaving it free for future development. But at the first annual meeting of the Herne Bay Pier Trust, trustees said it was vital more people became members to attract crucial funding. Chairman Graham Cooper said:
“The trustees are all totally committed to regenerating the pier but equally it must be recognised that all of us cannot do it alone. If the citizens of Herne Bay are to have a new pier, they must be prepared to fight hard for it and pull together with the trust. We will certainly need to have a membership in the thousands if we are to have credibility and claim a legitimate mandate from the people of the town that a regenerated pier is what they want.”
The trust hopes to raise enough money to pay for a complete rebuild to connect the pier to pier head and will ask for ideas from the town before committing to any designs. Volunteers are also needed to help share the workload.
HB Times 20th May 2010
Membership of Herne Bay Pier Trust costs just £10-a-year. For more information or a membership application form visit www.hernebaypiertrust.co.uk or write to: Andy Newell, Membership Secretary 30 Gordon Road, Herne Bay CT6 5QT