Hastings Pier has been sold and the new owner is Sheikh Abid Gulzar the man who has owned Eastbourne Pier since 2015.
A statement issued by administrators Smith and Williamson to Hastings In Focus just after 10pm tonight read: “…since the Hastings Pier Charity went into administration we have been working extremely hard to find a viable buyer for this important heritage asset, in an attempt to facilitate a transfer of the pier as a going concern and ensure its success in the future. This has been a complex task; and we worked to ensure we explored many potential buyers.
“Today we are announcing that, after careful consideration of the bids received and on the recommendation of our agents, we have transferred the business and assets of Hastings Pier Charity (including the Pier itself) to Mr Abid Gulzar the owner of Eastbourne Pier.
“The pier has maintained its Grade II listing and the associated preservation rights. We recognise that the long term sustainability of the pier is important to Hastings. Therefore the sale is subject to a reversion clause, which means that in the event that the pier is resold in the next two years, there are certain provisions which are in favour of Hastings Borough Council acquiring it.
“All the heritage assets of the pier are being transferred to Hastings Museum, which will allow future generations the opportunity to understand and appreciate the significant cultural impact and history of the pier on Hastings.
“Mr Gulzar intends to honour all the events that have been booked at Hastings Pier this year during the administration period. Furthermore, all staff have been transferred. Mr Gulzar is also keen to engage with the local community and will be delivering his ideas for investing in the pier in due course.
“Shareholder contact data remains with Hastings Pier Charity in administration, and has not be transferred as part of the sale.
“In line with our statutory duties as administrators, we will be issuing a progress report in respect of all aspects of the administration in the next two weeks which will include further details of the administration to date.
“Finally, we want to say thank you: to you, the staff, to the volunteers and to the many other stakeholders involved with the pier.”
Hastings Borough Council (HBC) has given a cautious welcome to the fact that Mr Gulzar has acquired the pier, in a statement issued in the last hour council spokesman Kevin Boorman said: ” HBC is obviously pleased that the town’s pier has a long term future, but has expressed concerns about the sale process.
“We are very pleased that our pier, one of the town’s most popular attractions, has had so much interest, and that it has been sold as a going concern.
“We cannot comment on the new owner’s plans, as he has not yet shared them with us. We do hope that we are able to meet him very soon.
“We did meet some of the other bidders, and their plans were exciting; we are disappointed that they weren’t given the time they asked for to develop them, as they could have had a major transformational effect on the town.
“We know that a lot of people, paid staff and many volunteers, have worked very hard indeed over the past few years to secure a long term future for the pier, and we would like to pay tribute to them. If it hadn’t been for their efforts, the pier would not have been saved. We are very grateful indeed for all that they have done.”
The Friends of Hastings Pier social media accounts were urging local people to go down to the pier tonight to register their protest at the sale and as this story goes to press we understand a number of people have gathered at the gates of the pier. FoHP feels it has been treated unfairly in the bidding process and do not feel its proposals were give due consideration.
For further updates on this story check back with www.hastingsinfocus.co.uk throughout the weekend.