Birnbeck owners told to repair jetty 'danger'

PUBLISHED: 07:00 01 February 2016

Damage to Birnbeck Pier's north jetty. Photo by Neil O'Donoghue.

Damage to Birnbeck Pier's north jetty. Photo by Neil O'Donoghue.

Archant

The owners of Weston-super-Mare's dilapidated Birnbeck Pier have been given 21 days by North Somerset Council to make the structure safe following the collapse of one of its jetties last month.

The council has stepped in after part of the pier’s north jetty collapsed due to strong gales and rain in Storm Frank, which hit the UK just after Christmas.

However, pier owner CNM Estates has said it is ‘grossly inappropriate’ for people to solely blame the company for the state of the pier and stressed it was doing ‘everything it could’ to find a solution to the problem.

A spokesman for North Somerset Council said: “CNM Estates has 21 days to take steps to remove any potential danger caused by the partial structure collapse and any falling debris.

“We have written to CNM Estates following the partial collapse to remind it of its responsibility to ensure the structure is made safe.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and take steps as necessary to ensure the public remain safe.

“We wouldn’t want to comment on any other steps we could take until CNM has had the opportunity to respond.”

Birnbeck was bought by CNM back in 2014, but its chairman Wahid Samady said the pier’s poor state was due to neglect during the last 50 years.

Mr Samady also said a team of professionals was investigating what should be done to remove any loose debris following the north jetty’s collapse.

Mr Samady said: “The pier has been in disrepair for 25 years as result of neglect for the last 50 years – so for anybody just to put the full burden on CNM is grossly inappropriate. We are doing everything we can to find a solution.”

Mr Samady also reaffirmed that talks to lease the pier on a 25-year basis to the Birnbeck Regeneration Trust were ongoing – but said there was ‘no point’ granting the lease to the trust unless funding for its restoration was in place.

He told the Mercury: “The trust is (taking) the lead in procuring public funding – a process which CNM Estates is paying for.

“Once the trust is able to get the funding confirmed, it will get a 25-year lease.

“There is no point in giving the lease if there is no funding agreed by the trust as this will only create further deadlock. Both the trust and CNM agree on this and are closely working together.

“The issue of old Victorian structures and estates falling into disrepair is a national issue, with large estates in the press all the time.

“In most cases, the local authority takes the lead to pull together a design brief that takes into consideration planning issues, viability and a source of funds, which results in a document that sets the parameters and roadmap for the solution. This has not so far happened at Birnbeck.

“We are interested to hear views other than people saying CNM should put in £10million and get nothing back – that’s crazy.”

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