Well, the Pier Trust meeting on 27th November turned out to be a mixture of shambolic, puzzling and inspirational.
- The papers circulated at the meeting (not beforehand, so nobody had time to assess them adequately) consisted of the previous year’s minutes, and page 3 of what turned out to be a 7 page Treasurer’s report.
- The Treasurer’s presentation on the evening gave no explanation of the accounts – a first in my experience.
- The vote on approving the previous minutes had to be postponed to allow the Pier Trust members time to read them, and was nearly forgotten altogether.
- Six of the eleven Trustees were on the platform. One was on holiday, the five vacant seats were the result of the alarmingly high drop-out/bail-out/walk-out rate.
- This meeting was billed as an AGM. It is traditional for AGMs to be used for electing officers or committee members, but not at this AGM, not even with them being down to 7 out of 11. Fortunately, Michael Khoury was there to remind them of the need to elect new members to bring themselves up to the numbers required by the Memorandum of Association (of which more later) and their Articles of Association.
- Then things started to get very confused. Could elections only happen at an AGM? If there were no elections that evening, was the meeting really an AGM at all? Should we have another meeting later, call it an AGM, and have the elections then? And if we did, what should we call the meeting we were all in? Maybe we should have another meeting later, and call it an EGM – maybe that would get round the problem…
- I think the conclusion was that the meeting we were all in was actually an AGM, and that we would have elections at a later EGM. Anyway, there were no elections that night.
Co-Chair Doreen Stone told us that the Trust would be drawing up
specifications for the posts that they want filled. This seems a
little over-optimistic, not to say unrealistic. The Trust isn’t being overwhelmed by inappropriate applications, and Trustees are leaving faster than they are being recruited. Rather than reducing recruitment by raising the entry requirements, it would be a better idea to staunch the outflow of Trustees by resolving whatever is causing the steady exodus.
The short term plan, as revealed by co-Chair Cllr Howes, is for enhancement and “gradual rebuild”. The enhancement seems to consist of 13 beach hut-style retail kiosks running along the neck of the Pier stub, similar to the beach hut market by Whitstable Harbour. These huts are planned for 2013, and would set the Trust back about £40,000.
According to Cllr Howes, this would generate a dozen business startups – one of the huts would be a community hut – and there is already interest in four huts for crafts, sweets, and food stalls. On the rest of the Pier there would be a pavilion; a 4 metre by 5 metre hut serving as a ‘cave’ (?); a stage for public performances; and facilities for fishing. From 2014, the Trust hope to have the Pier licenced for weddings, providing another income stream.
Cllr Howes said he would be “proud” if the Pier could be doubled in length over the next 10 years. This I found rather bewildering. Would this be a matter of a few metres each year, or would the Trust be saving their pennies for a building spurt in 2023? All the research done by the long-term Rebuild team on the Trust points to a full-length Pier (combined with some major income generation) as being the only viable option. So what’s the point of aiming for a double-length stub?
The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the unveiling of the long-term plan for rebuilding the Pier. Buckets of blood, sweat and tears have been poured into this project and the results are truly impressive.
They are calling the proposal the “Kent Pier Marina“. The magic ingredient that makes this full-length Pier sustainable is having a 275-berth marina at the far end, sheltered from the worst of the North Sea by two arcs of sea wall. [Lots more about this in another post.]