A community share scheme in Hastings Pier will open Saturday 5th. October, exactly three years to the day after a catastrophic fire that practically destroyed the 140 year-old structure. Investors will become shareholder owners of the new pier.
This is the first pier to be offered for community ownership though local share schemes are becoming increasingly popular, particularly for rural shops and pubs. “If the pier is to survive another 140 years it will be because it gets used, and that’s where community ownership is vital’”, said CEO of the charity behind the move, Simon Opie, The scheme is hoping to attract investors from across the country.
Over £13m has already been found to renovate the iconic pier, the lion’s share from the Heritage Lottery Fund and a further £200,000 is now needed to complete the works. It is planned to raise a further £300,000 to fund visitor attractions such as a microbrewery and children’s playground, ‘once renovated we’ll have a spectacular walkway above the sea but that’s all the £13.9m pays for, long-term financial security will come from people using the pier and for that we need to offer much more than simply a seaside promenade,’ said Opie.
Shares can be bought through www.microgenius.org.uk/project/hastings-pier-15, a dedicated community shares website run by Co-operatives UK. No shares will be issued or money taken until the publicised target amounts are achieved. Under the community share scheme each shareholder has one vote regardless of the number of shares held; minimum investment is £100 up to a legal maximum of £20,000. EIS (Enterprise Investment Scheme) status has been requested and when granted any investment will qualify for 30% tax relief.
Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, “we welcome the forthcoming community share offer for Hastings Pier. This is a pioneering and visionary project that is about bringing both the people and the money together to create a lasting and sustainable public space for this coastal town.”
Cllr Peter Chowney, Hastings Borough Council’s lead member for regeneration commented, “it’s excellent news for Hastings that the Pier Charity is forging ahead with the plans for the renovation of the towns’ iconic pier; inviting local people to have a share in this and the future success of the pier is very welcome indeed.”
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Notes for Editors
Co-operatives UK works to grow the co-operative economy by promoting, developing and uniting co-operative businesses. It has a unique role as a trade association for co-operatives and its campaigns for co-operation, such as Co-operatives Fortnight, bring together all those with a passion and interest in co-operative action.
Any organisation supportive of co-operation and mutuality can join and there are many opportunities online for individuals to connect to the latest co-operative news, innovations and campaigns.
Co-operatives UK published People’s Piers <http://www.uk.coop/piers in August 2013. Authored by Hastings Pier campaigner, Jess Steele, the publication examines the ownership, usage and future of Britain’s piers. Through telling the story of Hastings Pier it provides inspiration to those looking for a new model to safeguard Britain’s 57 remaining seaside piers.
Locality http://locality.org.uk/ is the leading nationwide network of community enterprises, development trusts, settlements and social action centres. Its membership has expertise in community asset ownership, community enterprise, collaborative working, community voice and advocacy. Locality supported Hastings Pier with their campaign to bring the Pier into community ownership; they offer advice on the Community Rights including asset transfer through the Community Rights support service – mycommunityrights.org.uk