For one of her earliest posts, back in February 2012, Battleaxe wrote an impassioned piece about the apparent lack of progress on the pier project, and got into hot water for it. I've scarcely dared mention it since. Since then, things have happened. The main grant of lottery money was secured, a community share issue has been launched and work has now started.
|This is what we like to see!|
So, where are we now?
Firstly, the share issue, which was originally intended to raise £500,000. (We have bought our shares). According to the relevant website, the initiative has so far raised nearly £225,000 - about 45% of the total. This is encouraging, and the minimum issue target of £200,000 has been exceeded, which means that the share issue will be taken up. However, the rest of the money needs to be raised by April, so more shares need to be sold quite quickly.
What does Battleaxe have to say about this? For many people in Hastings, the minimum investment of £100 is a lot of money, particularly in the current economic climate. I wonder why the minimum was set at this level? I feel sure there would be an increased take-up if the minimum was set at £50, or even £25. I have talked to many people, for example in the WI, and is clear that many people would like shares but cannot afford them. If there is some legal requirement that £100, equating to 100 shares, has to be the minimum stake, maybe more could be done to help people to club together to buy shares. The share offer document refers people who may be having trouble raising £100 to the Hastings Pier Charity website, but I can find nothing about it there.
So, what does the project look like on the ground now? One of my original gripes was about lack of
publicity and explanatory notices on the pier gates. This has now been rectified, with plenty of big notices and nice graphics.
|Men at work....|
Having had our good peer at the pier, we visited the new visitor Hub. It seems very pleasant, light, warm and welcoming, with kids things, a model of the new pier, notice boards, a video, a pleasant gentleman to talk to us, and even things for dogs. However, as yet there are no signs! One small 'A' Board on the sea side of the building, where the door is, but nothing anywhere else. Lets have flags on the flag poles (OK they'd blow away right now), murals or bright big signs on the street side.
|Pier Hub - the front....|
|.....and the street side - perhaps a little anonymous?|
Anyway, it's all encouraging.
Finally, there is a BBC1 TV programme featuring Hastings Pier, 'The End of the Pier Story' at 19.30 on Friday 7 February.
|Inside the Hub|