SOUTHEND’S iconic pier would would be shut if the council went bankrupt, a leading councillor has warned as it was revealed it made an almost £200,000 loss last year.

James Moyies, councillor responsible for public health, adult social care and constitutional affairs, said if the council does not get on top of its £10.7million budget deficit, like many other council’s across the country, it will have to declare a s114 notice, effectively declaring itself bankrupt.

At a special cabinet meeting on Tuesday the cabinet rubber-stamped plans for a 10 per cent rise in council fees and charges to be brought forward from April to January 1 to help cut the deficit and a procurement exercise to attract private businesses to help with the cost of operating Southend Pier.

Cabinet also discussed a raft of budget-cutting ideas put forward by councillors.

Speaking at the meeting, Mr Moyies said: “Out of that process of brainstorming and putting ideas out there we’ve had some good ideas. It’s urgent and we’ve had to take action such as putting forward some fees and charges to January rather than waiting to April.

“By taking this positive action we are trying to avoid what could happen, in the short to medium term, with a s114 notice. If that happened the pier would be closed and many other services that we don’t need to do as a council would just stop.”

Mr Moyies added: “We’re trying to avoid that dreadful situation that we are heading towards. With a positive attitude from the whole council to get by these ideas we’ve have got a good opportunity to achieve that.”

Derek Jarvis, councillor responsible for arts, culture, heritage and leisure, said council officers were drawing up plans to make the pier more financially viable.

Mr Jarvis said: “I’ve had an hour-and-a-half presentation made to me by the pier and foreshore team showing all sorts of things from the moment you walk off the esplanade onto the pier. Things that they are working on to make improvements straight away to get income.

“The word procurement means procuring resources to make money rather than just nearly breaking even. There was a loss of £190,000 last year but I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve seen.”

Mr Jarvis added: “I wanted to make sure the word procurement didn’t mean selling off the pier. It means getting operators on there who are professional and will work with us to make money for us this year and in the longer term make a lot more money.”