Real prospect of losing seafront jewel

IT'S just ten months since Weston's iconic Grand Pier was ravaged by fire, yet already the green shoots of recovery are seemingly evident.

IT'S just ten months since Weston's iconic Grand Pier was ravaged by fire, yet already the green shoots of recovery are seemingly evident.

Work to clear the blackened remains took place at the tail end of last year, and now supporting piles are being driven into place ready to hold a new �34million dream pavilion.

Throughout this process, all parties involved have been publicly heralded for their vision, expedience and rapidity.

It will come as a shock to many, therefore, to learn of discontent behind-the-scenes, as a bitter wrangle between the pier owners and North Somerset Council is now threatening to derail the whole rebuilding project.


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Kerry Michael, who co-owns the landmark with sister Michelle, has accused the council of profiteering at the pier's expense by imposing a raft of hidden charges.

He said: "I am fed up of the council having their hands in our pockets - no sooner do we agree one cost, they invent another."

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The council has countered by stressing all bills are 'inevitable and legitimate' and insisting it is 'not intending to make any profit from the pier's misfortune'.

The sad upshot of this impasse is that Mr Michael has called a halt to pier rebuilding work, and Weston is now facing the very real prospect of its seafront jewel losing out on its trumpeted regeneration.

Of course, it's clear that such an outcome would benefit no-one.

The Michaels have already invested huge time, money and energy into drawing up their exciting blueprint, while the grim, blackened spectre of the pier remains could do irreparable damage to Weston's tourist status if not repaired.

With the two parties at loggerheads, no obvious answer presents itself - but for Weston's sake, it is vital that a solution can be found.

We all must hope a way forward is established, and a project which will inject fresh optimism and vitality to Weston gets back on track.

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