PLANS for a private operator to run Southend Pier are set to be scrapped despite the landmark attraction making an annual loss of £190,000 a year.

The new Labour-led administration is confident the huge losses can be overcome by hosting a series of additional events throughout the year on the city’s 1.3 mile pleasure pier.

Just last year, the former Tory administration revealed plans for the pier to be taken over by a commercial operator as part of cost cutting measures across Southend.

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

However, the new administration believe there is underutilised potential and the pier could be better managed to overcome the financial issues.

Matt Dent, Labour councillor responsible for culture, tourism, and business, said: “At the moment nothing has been formerly decided but our instinct is we think there is a lot of capacity within the council that hasn’t been fully utilised in terms of managing the pier.

“As portfolio holder, my feeling is it is better keeping it in house. We are already planning a lot more events on the pier to draw people there.

“Revenue is there to be generated, and that revenue coming into the council directly can then be put into improving the pier and helping fund vital services that are under strain.

“No formal decision has been made but our instinct is to probably abandon those plans to find a private operator.

“There is a lot of potential for Southend Pier. There is also a lot of enthusiasm and talent within the council, that I feel hasn’t been properly utilised in making the pier the best it can.

“With sourcing to private companies, we have seen things like the Kursaal, and how it could go horribly wrong.”

The new Labour-led council released its aims for the city including the want to introduce “20 weeks of events on the pier” and at least “six major events across the city” every year.

They hope this will help give the Southend Pier the boost it needs.

Tony Cox, leader of the Conservative group, said: “It is very disappointing.

“They would run a loss operation, rather than make it profitable with private enterprise. But it doesn’t surprise me as they hate the seafront.

“There were a whole raft of things as to why it made sense. Considering the output, the numbers, and how things are in terms of buying tickets, no online offering, the IT systems.

“I feel a commercial operator would have made a great success of it.”