CLOSING Southend Pier for two days a week during the winter could seriously harm the town’s tourist trade.

That is the view of Liberal Democrats, who have asked officers at Southend Council to come up with another way of saving £50,000 a year from March.

Tory chiefs believe closing the pier on Mondays and Tuesdays, when it is not busy during the off-season, makes economic sense.

But Graham Longley, the leader of Southend’s Lib Dem group, said it could cause collateral damage.

Southend’s Tories unveiled plans to plug the shortfall in the 2013/14 council budget last week. Closing the pier for two days a week between November 1 and April 1 every year was one of the proposals.

Council bosses pointed out visitor numbers on those days were often in the single figures, yet employment law meant they were still forced to fully staff the attraction.

They promised the pier would open if popular off-season dates, such as New Year’s Day or Easter, were to fall on a Monday or Tuesday.