Cost of running Southend Pier revealed

Cllr Ian Gilbert with pier staff

Cllr Ian Gilbert with pier staff

First published in News Exclusive by

Companies could again be asked to invest in Southend Pier after it made a £1.2million loss last year.

Independent councillor Ron Woodley spoke as figures revealed by the Echo showed the 1.3-mile landmark cost £1.7million last year and only generated £537,000 in income.

This means taxpayers subsidised the landmark to the tune of £1.2million.

The scale of the loss has prompted the rainbow administration in charge of the authority to look to private companies to invest in the pier. However, the Lib Dem, Labour, and Independent administration has ruled out selling off the pier, pointing out previous attempts to work with the private sector on the structure have proved fruitless.

Mr Woodley, said: “We will consider opportunities in the future to work with other partners on the pier’s operation, but when previously offered to the private sector, no viable bids have come forward.

“The pier is an internationally recognised landmark and a major draw for both visitors and residents.

“The council has always retained ownership of this vital asset, so we have control over how it is managed and maintained and what attractions are on the pier.

“It also enables us to invest in a range of measures, including fire and sprinkler systems, maintenance of the structure and pier railway and other required works that if we did not have ownership of, we would not have direct control of.”

Last year, the Tories decided to close the pier on Mondays and Tuesdays over the winter period, which has saved £50,000 per year and the new administration has not ruled out similar measures.

In 2011, the previous Tory administration paid out £2.1million to install a sprinkler system on the pier, in a bid to avoid a repeat of the 2005 fire, which gutted the structure.

John Lamb, leader of the Tory group on the council, claimed his party, who were ousted from power in May, tried to get private developers to run parts of the pier.

He added: “The current expenses of the pier are not viable unless they can make sure they can increase footfall by getting more visitors on there.

“That’s why we put the Royal Pavilion on there – to give people a reason to go to the end of the pier.

“The problem with third parties is they are willing to invest, but want to keep all the profit and leave the maintenance to the council.

“There are a lot of unanswered questions with the pier – the train track needs updating soon, but who is going to do that?”

However, Mr Woodley added: “Our other historical assets are also vital to our tourism offer and also vital to the heritage of the town and it is right that they remain open and maintained for local people, too.

“Visitor numbers continue to increase at all of our attractions such as the pier, and in light of the economic climate and strain on public finances, we are continually looking at ways to generate income and reduce the burden on local taxpayers.

“However, we are committed to maintaining our heritage and seaside assets IT could be a record-breaking year at Southend Pier if tourists continue to flock to the attraction.

 

Echo: Southend pier

...But it could be a record-breaking year for the attraction

 

In the first seven months this year, almost 190,000 people have flocked to the 1.3mile-long structure, meaning that tourists could top 300,000 this year.

If achieved, it will be the first time so many people have visited in one year, since the fire in October 2005.

This year’s figure also takes into account the closure on Mondays and Tuesdays during the winter.

Labour’s Ian Gilbert, deputy leader of the council, said: “The pier has so much to offer and I am delighted residents and visitors alike have swarmed to what is a wonderful asset to the borough.

“Obviously the good weather we have had has helped, but I also think it is testament to the excellent management by the staff, the investments made, and the diverse range of events that take place throughout the year.

“However, we are not complacent and we know there is scope for our pier to be even better. The increased footfall demonstrates the potential opportunities for investment and we are keen to talk to businesses about this.” In 2013, 284, 468 people visited the attraction, in what was the biggest influx of tourists since 2005.

Last year, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver filmed parts of his show at the end of the pier, with a host of famous names.

Upcoming events on the pier include the Barge Match exhibition, from 11am on Sunday, August 24, and the finale of the Summer Jazz on the Pier programme, being held at the Royal Pavilion, on Sunday, September 21.

Last year, the pier witnessed its first wedding, which took place at the Royal Pavilion.

Comments (26)

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5:11pm Thu 14 Aug 14

sesibollox says...

It might help if it was actually open every day, it might help if they encouraged fishermen to the pier, instead of enforcing more rules than a military prison, no one one goes there apart from a lost day tripper, and they dont stay long, nothing to do, apart from getting ripped off in the Royal Pavilion, SELL IT, let a professional company run it, get some attractions on it, bloody white elephant...
It might help if it was actually open every day, it might help if they encouraged fishermen to the pier, instead of enforcing more rules than a military prison, no one one goes there apart from a lost day tripper, and they dont stay long, nothing to do, apart from getting ripped off in the Royal Pavilion, SELL IT, let a professional company run it, get some attractions on it, bloody white elephant... sesibollox
  • Score: 9

5:15pm Thu 14 Aug 14

Alfiee says...

sesibollox wrote:
It might help if it was actually open every day, it might help if they encouraged fishermen to the pier, instead of enforcing more rules than a military prison, no one one goes there apart from a lost day tripper, and they dont stay long, nothing to do, apart from getting ripped off in the Royal Pavilion, SELL IT, let a professional company run it, get some attractions on it, bloody white elephant...
Well said you pay to walk it or get the train and nothing at the end of it. Took my Grandaughter down and it was not safe for her down there. I just got the train straight back.
[quote][p][bold]sesibollox[/bold] wrote: It might help if it was actually open every day, it might help if they encouraged fishermen to the pier, instead of enforcing more rules than a military prison, no one one goes there apart from a lost day tripper, and they dont stay long, nothing to do, apart from getting ripped off in the Royal Pavilion, SELL IT, let a professional company run it, get some attractions on it, bloody white elephant...[/p][/quote]Well said you pay to walk it or get the train and nothing at the end of it. Took my Grandaughter down and it was not safe for her down there. I just got the train straight back. Alfiee
  • Score: 7

5:24pm Thu 14 Aug 14

sesibollox says...

sesibollox wrote:
It might help if it was actually open every day, it might help if they encouraged fishermen to the pier, instead of enforcing more rules than a military prison, no one one goes there apart from a lost day tripper, and they dont stay long, nothing to do, apart from getting ripped off in the Royal Pavilion, SELL IT, let a professional company run it, get some attractions on it, bloody white elephant...
P.S. Sack all those moronic buddy chummies who pretend to work there..
[quote][p][bold]sesibollox[/bold] wrote: It might help if it was actually open every day, it might help if they encouraged fishermen to the pier, instead of enforcing more rules than a military prison, no one one goes there apart from a lost day tripper, and they dont stay long, nothing to do, apart from getting ripped off in the Royal Pavilion, SELL IT, let a professional company run it, get some attractions on it, bloody white elephant...[/p][/quote]P.S. Sack all those moronic buddy chummies who pretend to work there.. sesibollox
  • Score: 7

5:36pm Thu 14 Aug 14

MarcelloM says...

You could pay for 9 airshows with that £1.2m.

The irony is, the pier's losses wouldn't have been that high if there been an airshow.

**** the pier.
You could pay for 9 airshows with that £1.2m. The irony is, the pier's losses wouldn't have been that high if there been an airshow. **** the pier. MarcelloM
  • Score: 3

5:37pm Thu 14 Aug 14

Jack222 says...

Loved it. Visited the other week - nice restaurant at the end. Not full of all the seaside tat which otherwise spoils Southend. Great walk.

The pier may not make money but it may well pull in lots of people who spend money elsewhere in the town. Like me.

We need to encourage exercise - my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the walk. Give some free entry tickets for walking as prizes - schools, getting council forms in on time, most library books borrowed...
Loved it. Visited the other week - nice restaurant at the end. Not full of all the seaside tat which otherwise spoils Southend. Great walk. The pier may not make money but it may well pull in lots of people who spend money elsewhere in the town. Like me. We need to encourage exercise - my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the walk. Give some free entry tickets for walking as prizes - schools, getting council forms in on time, most library books borrowed... Jack222
  • Score: 7

5:39pm Thu 14 Aug 14

sesibollox says...

MarcelloM wrote:
You could pay for 9 airshows with that £1.2m.

The irony is, the pier's losses wouldn't have been that high if there been an airshow.

**** the pier.
The pier was closed during the air shows, health and safety....
[quote][p][bold]MarcelloM[/bold] wrote: You could pay for 9 airshows with that £1.2m. The irony is, the pier's losses wouldn't have been that high if there been an airshow. **** the pier.[/p][/quote]The pier was closed during the air shows, health and safety.... sesibollox
  • Score: 5

5:39pm Thu 14 Aug 14

Jack222 says...

And a fair enough idea to close it two days a week over winter; extend that idea and only open it full time from Easter...
And a fair enough idea to close it two days a week over winter; extend that idea and only open it full time from Easter... Jack222
  • Score: 3

5:40pm Thu 14 Aug 14

Howard Cháse says...

World's Longest Pleasure Pier.

Nothing much in the way of pleasure to be had on it these days though.

It should be one of the town's biggest assets yet for years it has been neglected in favour of all sorts of other projects.

Get yer finger out SBC and do something about it and I don't mean dismantle it and sell it for scrap....
World's Longest Pleasure Pier. Nothing much in the way of pleasure to be had on it these days though. It should be one of the town's biggest assets yet for years it has been neglected in favour of all sorts of other projects. Get yer finger out SBC and do something about it and I don't mean dismantle it and sell it for scrap.... Howard Cháse
  • Score: 5

5:51pm Thu 14 Aug 14

jolllyboy says...

All this hype about many visitors - not turned into hard cash though is it. I now wonder who to believe. Empty shops, crowds of uni folk who dont spend money, now we are told our main attraction doesnt make money !
All this hype about many visitors - not turned into hard cash though is it. I now wonder who to believe. Empty shops, crowds of uni folk who dont spend money, now we are told our main attraction doesnt make money ! jolllyboy
  • Score: 7

6:01pm Thu 14 Aug 14

Now listen for I have something to say says...

So even with the Jamie Oliver series and Eastenders being filmed, those lucrative possibilities, were lost like sand falling from your hand, nothing but piles of rubbish adorn that empty cafe, not even a shelter, to get respite from a strong wind, no pub no amuesements and thus no visitors
So even with the Jamie Oliver series and Eastenders being filmed, those lucrative possibilities, were lost like sand falling from your hand, nothing but piles of rubbish adorn that empty cafe, not even a shelter, to get respite from a strong wind, no pub no amuesements and thus no visitors Now listen for I have something to say
  • Score: 8

6:42pm Thu 14 Aug 14

SARFENDMAN says...

Nothing endearing about the pier for our younger generation and that's the sad fact. An older generation remember a thriving structure but there is now a generation who have no love for it whatsoever and who can blame them. Successive administrations have totally mismanaged the structure even before the devastating fire of 1976. On that occasion no insurance. Other piers seem to thrive even after fires, take a look at Weston Super Mare. There is massive hope for Eastbourne. The shed at the end is meant to be an attraction but rarely offers regular attractions. We were meant to have had new Pier Pavilion after that burnt down. What happened to that? It was insured.
All very, very sad and can't see any private investor putting their hand in their pocket to sort out a structure that requires an awful lot of tlc. Jamie Oliver has recorded his shows there but that's about it. Not an attraction to see an empty studio. Sorry to doom and gloom but this debate comes up every now and again and nothing positive comes out of it.
Nothing endearing about the pier for our younger generation and that's the sad fact. An older generation remember a thriving structure but there is now a generation who have no love for it whatsoever and who can blame them. Successive administrations have totally mismanaged the structure even before the devastating fire of 1976. On that occasion no insurance. Other piers seem to thrive even after fires, take a look at Weston Super Mare. There is massive hope for Eastbourne. The shed at the end is meant to be an attraction but rarely offers regular attractions. We were meant to have had new Pier Pavilion after that burnt down. What happened to that? It was insured. All very, very sad and can't see any private investor putting their hand in their pocket to sort out a structure that requires an awful lot of tlc. Jamie Oliver has recorded his shows there but that's about it. Not an attraction to see an empty studio. Sorry to doom and gloom but this debate comes up every now and again and nothing positive comes out of it. SARFENDMAN
  • Score: 8

7:00pm Thu 14 Aug 14

John Bull 40 says...

"A major draw for visitors and residents" dream on, how many residents
visit the pier? 1% if that, it is the best place to go if you don't like crowds.
"A major draw for visitors and residents" dream on, how many residents visit the pier? 1% if that, it is the best place to go if you don't like crowds. John Bull 40
  • Score: 6

7:35pm Thu 14 Aug 14

hydra6+ says...

There is nothing to attract people once they are at the end of the Pier. There is rarely anything on in the Pavillion and the cafe used by Jamie Oliver is closed. The big attraction is the lifeboat station, if that is your interest.
When the Punch and Judy shows were there recently, it was obvious that the crowds were hungry for some entertainment and were amazed to find that they were there only once a year.
Get someone in to build and run a pub where there used to be one and have something on daily. Hydra
There is nothing to attract people once they are at the end of the Pier. There is rarely anything on in the Pavillion and the cafe used by Jamie Oliver is closed. The big attraction is the lifeboat station, if that is your interest. When the Punch and Judy shows were there recently, it was obvious that the crowds were hungry for some entertainment and were amazed to find that they were there only once a year. Get someone in to build and run a pub where there used to be one and have something on daily. Hydra hydra6+
  • Score: 4

8:10pm Thu 14 Aug 14

the25man says...

Get private sector in but only put your money in but that's all you get to do. Talk about having your cake and eating it
Get private sector in but only put your money in but that's all you get to do. Talk about having your cake and eating it the25man
  • Score: 2

9:04pm Thu 14 Aug 14

jayman says...

I used to be of the opinion that Philip miller's group would be the best option for regeneration of the pier. I'm now of the opinion that this would only lead to the pier becoming a cartoon parody of itself. I'm now of the opinion that Douglas Adams may have made an important observation when he included the pier in his book The hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy. To appreciate the the complexity of this observation you will require an infinite improbability drive to get to the pier and an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters to write a plan to save it.

Southends council have at least one human being with a modern computer working on a plan. amazing!! cultural centre!!.... lolololololol
I used to be of the opinion that Philip miller's group would be the best option for regeneration of the pier. I'm now of the opinion that this would only lead to the pier becoming a cartoon parody of itself. I'm now of the opinion that Douglas Adams may have made an important observation when he included the pier in his book The hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy. To appreciate the the complexity of this observation you will require an infinite improbability drive to get to the pier and an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters to write a plan to save it. Southends council have at least one human being with a modern computer working on a plan. amazing!! cultural centre!!.... lolololololol jayman
  • Score: 1

9:07pm Thu 14 Aug 14

jayman says...

run a regular walk-on ferry connection from the end of the pier to Kent. Make some money from it..
run a regular walk-on ferry connection from the end of the pier to Kent. Make some money from it.. jayman
  • Score: 4

10:07pm Thu 14 Aug 14

Jack222 says...

'There is nothing to attract people once they are at the end of the Pier. '

Silence. Views. Calm. I love it rather than the tawdry aspects of much of Southend.
'There is nothing to attract people once they are at the end of the Pier. ' Silence. Views. Calm. I love it rather than the tawdry aspects of much of Southend. Jack222
  • Score: 1

10:22pm Thu 14 Aug 14

emcee says...

What really annoys me is that the council make a huge fuss about it making a loss yet are in so much denial as to the reasons why. When you invest in what is arguably the towns greatest asset you do so to a cost of many millions, recoverable over a period of many years. Not do it on the cheap, spending a few thousands here and few thousand there and then stick a glorified hut on the end in the hope it will attract visitors (John Lamb's coment "That’s why we put the Royal Pavilion on there – to give people a reason to go to the end of the pier" has got to be joke of the week, surely).
The pier regeneration could quite easily have been afforded if the council had not sqaundered millions of pounds on "other" schemes.
These councillors need to take their heads out of their backsides and look further than the ends of their noses. Maybe then they will realise why the council's mismanagement of the pier has resulted in its failure. And that is exactly what it is... A FAILURE.
What really annoys me is that the council make a huge fuss about it making a loss yet are in so much denial as to the reasons why. When you invest in what is arguably the towns greatest asset you do so to a cost of many millions, recoverable over a period of many years. Not do it on the cheap, spending a few thousands here and few thousand there and then stick a glorified hut on the end in the hope it will attract visitors (John Lamb's coment "That’s why we put the Royal Pavilion on there – to give people a reason to go to the end of the pier" has got to be joke of the week, surely). The pier regeneration could quite easily have been afforded if the council had not sqaundered millions of pounds on "other" schemes. These councillors need to take their heads out of their backsides and look further than the ends of their noses. Maybe then they will realise why the council's mismanagement of the pier has resulted in its failure. And that is exactly what it is... A FAILURE. emcee
  • Score: 10

6:06am Fri 15 Aug 14

Keptquiettillnow says...

The busiest day I have seen at the pier for a long time was when the Green Peace ship visited.
The council need to be more open minded about the pier.
The busiest day I have seen at the pier for a long time was when the Green Peace ship visited. The council need to be more open minded about the pier. Keptquiettillnow
  • Score: 1

9:13am Fri 15 Aug 14

gordonbennet says...

Surely it would be far better to have an attraction of some kind at the shore-end of the pier? Having something that's visible and appealing to those on the seafront will draw people onto the pier. Once they are there, they would be far more inclined to walk or ride the train to the far end of the pier.
Surely it would be far better to have an attraction of some kind at the shore-end of the pier? Having something that's visible and appealing to those on the seafront will draw people onto the pier. Once they are there, they would be far more inclined to walk or ride the train to the far end of the pier. gordonbennet
  • Score: 1

9:17am Fri 15 Aug 14

MarcelloM says...

sesibollox wrote:
MarcelloM wrote:
You could pay for 9 airshows with that £1.2m.

The irony is, the pier's losses wouldn't have been that high if there been an airshow.

**** the pier.
The pier was closed during the air shows, health and safety....
Ah thank you - I didn't know that and stand corrected.

Obviously as a local I usually watched the airshow from Chalkwell or Westcliff, far from the madding crowd.
[quote][p][bold]sesibollox[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]MarcelloM[/bold] wrote: You could pay for 9 airshows with that £1.2m. The irony is, the pier's losses wouldn't have been that high if there been an airshow. **** the pier.[/p][/quote]The pier was closed during the air shows, health and safety....[/p][/quote]Ah thank you - I didn't know that and stand corrected. Obviously as a local I usually watched the airshow from Chalkwell or Westcliff, far from the madding crowd. MarcelloM
  • Score: 0

2:37pm Fri 15 Aug 14

disgusted of essex says...

Sadly time and trend have passed the pier by. I can see no profitable future for it unless it run by someone like the Stockdale group. People may wish to see the pier kept as it is , but it is simply not viable IMO.
Sadly time and trend have passed the pier by. I can see no profitable future for it unless it run by someone like the Stockdale group. People may wish to see the pier kept as it is , but it is simply not viable IMO. disgusted of essex
  • Score: 1

3:45pm Fri 15 Aug 14

lucy10 says...

van loony fish chips
van loony fish chips lucy10
  • Score: -3

4:57pm Fri 15 Aug 14

stopmoaning1 says...

Independent councillor Ron Woodley spoke as figures revealed by the Echo showed the 1.3-mile landmark cost £1.7million last year and only generated £537,000 in income.
This means taxpayers subsidised the landmark to the tune of £1.2million.

This is the same loony council who offered Eastbourne advice after their pier caught fire. Hahahahahaha Oh my sides are hurting now
Independent councillor Ron Woodley spoke as figures revealed by the Echo showed the 1.3-mile landmark cost £1.7million last year and only generated £537,000 in income. This means taxpayers subsidised the landmark to the tune of £1.2million. This is the same loony council who offered Eastbourne advice after their pier caught fire. Hahahahahaha Oh my sides are hurting now stopmoaning1
  • Score: 1

10:10pm Fri 15 Aug 14

Bosniavet says...

I was of the belief that Philip Miller has regularly offered to take over the pier. As the council were able to spend millions on a new library & pay out to renovate the formeer library, why can't they sopend something on the pier - rebuild the amusement arcade, shops & the cafe bar which were destroyed in the last fire. And, why not build & open a fish & chip restauarant just like there used to be before the 1976 fire. What we don't need is one cafe that is featured on TV, but never open to the public - in fact if jamie oliver is such a fan of the pier, why doesn't he actually set up a business on it that would draw in some more visitors.
I was of the belief that Philip Miller has regularly offered to take over the pier. As the council were able to spend millions on a new library & pay out to renovate the formeer library, why can't they sopend something on the pier - rebuild the amusement arcade, shops & the cafe bar which were destroyed in the last fire. And, why not build & open a fish & chip restauarant just like there used to be before the 1976 fire. What we don't need is one cafe that is featured on TV, but never open to the public - in fact if jamie oliver is such a fan of the pier, why doesn't he actually set up a business on it that would draw in some more visitors. Bosniavet
  • Score: -1

4:54pm Sun 17 Aug 14

John Bull 40 says...

Many years ago someone said to me, "the only way the pier would make
money would be to let people drive down it in their cars" and I think he
is probably correct.
Many years ago someone said to me, "the only way the pier would make money would be to let people drive down it in their cars" and I think he is probably correct. John Bull 40
  • Score: -1

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