UK & World News

  • 1 August 2014, 10:55

Eastbourne To Receive 2m After Pier Blaze

Eastbourne is to get 2m in government cash to deal with the devastating damage caused by a fire that ravaged the town's historic Victorian pier.

Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne made the funding announcement during a visit to the 144-year-old, Grade-II listed structure.

They also met members of the emergency services involved in tackling Wednesday's fire which reduced a large section of the 1,000ft pier to a charred shell.

Up to 80 firefighters tackled the blaze, pumping water on to the burning structure from the shore and sea.

The fire has come at a bad time for the seaside resort at the height of summer season and with the town due to host its biggest tourist event - the annual airshow Airbourne - in the next fortnight.

Mr Cameron said: "I know that the loss of one of Eastbourne's most prominent and well-loved landmarks will have hit the town hard and I am determined to do all I can to help local businesses recover."

Mr Osborne said: "Eastbourne Pier is a much-loved local attraction and this fire is devastating news. I am therefore delighted to be able to provide financial support so we can minimise the effect on business and tourism.

"We will work with Eastbourne as a matter of urgency to ensure that the funding is provided without delay so people can start enjoying the pier again."

As fire crews scaled down operations at the scene, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said the investigation into the fire's cause could take "a number of days".

A fire brigade spokesman said they were keeping "an open mind and ruling nothing out" over the cause of the fire.

Sussex Police have called on people to submit pictures or video footage they shot of the pier going up in flames, which they could use as part of their investigation.

David Tutt, Eastbourne Borough Council's leader, has said he understood the fire could have been started by an electrical fault.

Meanwhile, the local MP Stephen Lloyd said the pier could open as soon as next year.

Two thirds of the pier was untouched by the fire and the structure seemed "pretty sound", Mr Lloyd said after talks with the chief fire officer of East Sussex.

Eastbourne is the latest in a series of Victorian piers to suffer major fire damage.

In 2003, the 148-year-old West Pier in Brighton was reduced to a mangled mass of metal by two major fires within two months.

And in Eastbourne's neighbouring town of Hastings, the Grade II-listed pier was almost destroyed in a fire in 2010 following years of neglect.

Southend Pier in Essex was badly damaged by fire in 2005 and Grand Pier in Weston-super-Mare was wrecked by a blaze in 2008.