New Sussex Pier owner may bring in admission charge

Abid Gulzar the owner of Eastbourne pier (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150411-172704008
Abid Gulzar the owner of Eastbourne pier (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150411-172704008

The new owner of a Sussex pier says he might charge people £2 to go on the seafront landmark.

Sheikh Abid Gulzar bought Eastbourne Pier last month and told a national newspaper at the weekend he was “thinking aloud” and may charge people “a pound or two”.

Mr Gulzar, who also owns two hotels on the seafront, a children’s nursery and a hotel on the A22, gave the interview to the Independent on Sunday.

He said, “We think we must charge something, a pound or two.

“I’m thinking aloud. If we ask them for two pounds to enter I may give them free tea or coffee. I want them to feel welcome.”

Mr Gulzar paid an undisclosed amount for the 145-year-old seafront structure last month from previous owners Cuerden Leisure, which made its money from gaming machines inside the Blue Room destroyed in a blaze last year.

There was no obligation for either Cuerden Leisure or Mr Gulzar to replace the Blue Room structure and Mr Gulzar has publicly said he is against gambling and gaming machines, so that as a source of income has been ruled out.

Mr Gulzar said he needed to bring in what he called a “good return so bills can be paid and investment can continue”.

Last week Mr Gulzar hosted a business breakfast for more than 120 people so he could speak about his plans for the pier.

He told the audience he was thrilled to have bought the iconic site but there was much work to be done, and some of it at a large cost.

“I have many plans in mind, such as the jettying of boats which is one of my top priorities,” he said.

“Some people have asked, for example, whether I will reopen the Blue Room. The reality is the cost of that is very, very high and I am not a multi-millionaire.

“I have to make sure that what I do on the pier will bring in a good return so the bills can be paid and the investment can continue.

“I love this pier, I am on it seven days a week, but it all has to make good business sense as well.”

He said he was keen for Eastbourne’s economy to continue to grow in terms of more money coming into the town, and therefore more jobs.

“I am talking to people every day on the pier. I want it to grow and to prosper.

“There are some lovely attractions on there - the tea rooms are lovely but I want to make them better, Atlantis is an amazing building, and the fish and chip shop will get better and better. I will make sure of that, and we’ve only been going for two weeks.

“People are asking me to commit to more detailed plans but I am being very careful what I commit to.

“I have to be. I don’t want to say something that I can’t then carry out.”

Mr Gulzar has already said he wants to see a jetty at the end of the pier for large ships and restore the former theatre above Atlantis Nightclub.

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