End of the pier show

FELIXSTOWE has missed an exciting and excellent opportunity to regenerate itself as a seaside resort by "not thinking big enough", it was claimed today.

FELIXSTOWE has missed an exciting and excellent opportunity to regenerate itself as a seaside resort by "not thinking big enough", it was claimed today.

After standing proud as one of the resort's best-known landmarks for the past century, the end of the pier show could be about to begin – with demolition today a real possibility for the crumbling attraction.

But as all hope of replacing it with a £15 million mega attraction finally ended, campaigners said the politicians running the town had failed to grasp the opportunity they were offered to provide a huge draw to bring more visitors.

The pier is facing an uncertain future because the charitable trust set up to redevelop it has been formally wound up.

The landmark – in its 100th year – has been returned to its original owners Pier Amusements, who are planning to meet council chiefs to discuss demolition.

While the arcade at the front is still open, the pier itself has been closed five years because it is unsafe for public use and could collapse in a storm.

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Norman Thompson, secretary of the Felixstowe Pier Trust, said it was very sad but the trust had worked hard but been defeated by "lack of community support" and no real will to attract visitors.

There was no commercial use for the structure now and little point in spending as much as £2 million simply to make it safe for walking and fishing.

"We worked very hard for five years trying to persuade people that this was the project which could regenerate Felixstowe and would bring visitors here to spend money in the town as a whole," he said.

"It would have been a mega attraction. But now we have missed the opportunity and Snoasis on the other side of Ipswich will be the big attraction.

"It seems people are too small thinking and cannot grasp what needs to be done.

"They won't pedestrianise Hamilton Road, they won't build a new pier, they won't do this or that. But they spend hours talking about painting lampposts blue and chewing gum on the pavement."

The new pier would have featured the world's biggest revolving restaurant, conference centre, casino, ten-pin bowls, exhibitions and other attractions.

The trust failed to raise the money needed for a feasibility study and refused to consider a smaller scheme – like that which transformed Southwold pier – claiming it would not be commercially viable.

A spokesman for Suffolk Coastal said the council regretted the termination of the proposals for a new pier and hoped a less ambitious and perhaps more realistic scheme could be considered.

"Suffolk Coastal continues to make a significant investment in the management and operation of resort services it is not sustainable to just rely on public funding for regeneration schemes of this nature," he said.

"This is truer now than ever with the increasing financial pressures on the council and the desire to keep the council tax as low as possible."

Feature – see page 20 and 21

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