Pier boost less than hoped for

PUBLISHED: 14:01 16 September 2001 | UPDATED: 10:31 03 March 2010

HOPES of a £15 million new pier complex for Felixstowe have received a boost – though not one as large as had been wanted.

HOPES of a £15 million new pier complex for Felixstowe have received a boost – though not one as large as had been wanted.

The charitable trust behind the proposed spectacular attraction had requested £10,000 from Suffolk Coastal council towards the cost of a feasibility study.

But despite some councillors' support for such a sum, the proposal was defeated and the trustees will have to make do with £5,000 towards the cost of the report, needed in order to make applications for major investment in the project.

Today the trustees expressed their "deep disappointment" at the small amount of support from the council, which has £30 million in the bank.

Policymakers decided to support the study because information it will gather could be useful for the district council, too, and did not want to be the first rock on which the pier plan founders.

But they were told by councillor Peter Bellfield, who worked in the City of London for many years, that the project had a "less than 50-50 chance" of actually being built. It was incredibly difficult for inventions and imaginative schemes to secure venture capital in the UK and many went abroad.

"That's my honest opinion. But if this project were to succeed it would have immense benefits to Felixstowe, not only in the people it will employ, but those it will attract to the town and for its economy," said Mr Bellfield.

"I believe this council should wholeheartedly support the scheme at this feasibility stage. If we don't put money into the project, and I suggest £10,000, we will put the kybosh on it and it will fall here and now – I think that would be a great shame and would put a very bad reflection on this council."

Policy and resources committee chairman Ray Herring said the project showed great imagination and would be an important contribution to the development of Felixstowe and the district, and council should have the confidence to support it.

Councillor Andy Smith said that many councils spent huge sums on their seaside towns every year and were "major financial players", but in the six years since Suffolk Coastal launched its regeneration prospect it had spent "almost zero".

"I have never been able to come to terms with that. Any mechanism we can use to help this pier project should be used," he added.

Director of planning and leisure Jeremy Schofield said the council would have access to the report, which could provide valuable information on marketing, visitor expectations and the town's needs.

Felixstowe Pier Trust secretary Norman Thompson said: "I am deeply disappointed that the council could not support the request we made for £10,000. The trustees will be meeting soon to discuss it."

If built, the new pier will create a boom town by providing 150 new jobs and injecting an estimated £3.9 million into Felixstowe's annual economy.

It would have five-decks, one with a 100ft diameter revolving restaurant. It would feature 10-pin bowling, shops, snack bars, family entertainment centre, casino, conference centre, bars, and a heritage and climatic centre, landing stage for pleasure boats, and – 150ft above the sea – a lighthouse.

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