SOUTHEND’S landmark pier could be up for grabs by a private operator under a tranche of unprecedented cost-cutting measures planned for the city.

The pier is said to be making an annual £190,000 loss for the council despite events like the hugely popular El Galeon visit.

As a result the council is considering bringing in “a commercial operator” to run the pier.

Conservative council leader Tony Cox said; “If someone wants to show an expression of interest in taking it on we’ll look at it sympathetically. The pier is one of the jewels in Southend’s crown so it is imperative we keep it operable.

“If people have got those skills to run it for us commercially and keep it open as a venue that people want to go to then why not? Anyone can come forward with details of that they think they can do and we’ll be sympathetic and look at it.”

In 2020, Thorpe Bay businessman Tony Garner, managing director of Epic World Leisure, proposed breathing new life into the pier.

Back in 2016, the owner of Adventure Island Philip Miller and his company Stockvale was revealed as a private investor interested in splashing £20million on revamping the pier.

In the meantime entrance to the pier is set to rise by 25p.

The council’s plans will also see a 10 per cent rise in all council charges with the exception of parking charges. However, the council aims to raise an extra seven per cent income from parking by extending on-street parking charge areas. Charges will be introduced to park at Two Tree Island in Leigh.

Mr Cox said: “Sometimes doing a little bit less can actually bring in more income. This is not parks car parks but we have got some areas which are not being charged at all in prime locations so it’s looking at those, and permit fees as well. We think we can do that rather than whacking seven per cent on car parking charges.”

The bereaved will be hit by a 20 per cent increase in burial fees to “manage burial demand where land supply is limited”.

Any future events in the city, like the Tour of Britain bike race, will have to be run without any cost to the council.

The council also aims to save £50,000 by ditching the NetPark arts project which delivers an art therapy-based service for adults with dementia.

The council says it will also be looking at sharing the delivery of some services with other local authorities.