Full refurbishment of Southport Pier could cost more than £13m

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Repairs could cost over £10m more than expected.

The cost to repair Southport Pier could exceed £13m, with over 14 miles of ‘severely decayed’ decking and further issues with the pier’s steelwork.

An independent survey is expected to identify that more than 25% of the pier’s decking is majorly damaged or in need of immediate replacement, meaning the Pier will remain closed until the full refurbishment completed.

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Sefton Council said it has received ‘sufficient interim feedback’ to recommend next steps that will be presented to an emergency meeting of the Cabinet next Thursday (June 29), estimating that the full refurbishment works required could exceed £13 million - more than £10 million in excess of the £3m that the local authority agreed to borrow to fund decking replacement.

The Council said as well as repairing the decking, works would also be needed on the pier’s sub-structure and steelwork, but ‘the likely costs of this full refurbishment project are beyond the affordability’ of the the local authority.

Decision to close the pier was ‘the right one’

Councillor Maher said the project will be ‘huge and costly’ but ‘the Cabinet is supportive of the proposal for a full refurbishment project.’ He explained: “We recognise the Pier’s importance in Southport’s, in Sefton’s and in the country’s seaside heritage as well as its popularity with the many millions who visit Southport’s wide range of attractions each year.

“The Cabinet report also leaves me in no doubt that the decision to close the Pier after last December’s extreme weather to ensure the safety of people visiting and working on the pier, although not taken lightly, was the right one.”

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Southport Pier. Image: Wikimedia Commons (public domain)Southport Pier. Image: Wikimedia Commons (public domain)
Southport Pier. Image: Wikimedia Commons (public domain) | Wikimedia

Cllr Maher continued: “Last year, before the Pier was hit by the extreme weather in December 2022, which significantly worsened some of the wear already identified, the Council had already earmarked £3 million to replace all the decking.

“The actual refurbishment figure could exceed that by more than £10 million, such is the amount of deterioration inflicted by the elements on our much-loved Pier. 

“We have to consider all options available to us, but the Council is not supportive of any suggestion of closing the Pier permanently, and it has been disappointing to see some casting doubt on it’s future and talking down the Council’s commitment to it - particularly as some of those doing so claim to represent the town’s best interests.”

‘Condition of piers nationally is diminishing’

Cllr Marion Atkinson, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration & Skills, said 56miles of underfoot decking need replacing and that no firm timescale for the repairs can be confirmed. She added: “I fully sympathise with all the business who have been affected by the closure and understand their frustrations while waiting for this independent report. But Sefton Council will always put the safety of the public and those companies’ employees first.

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“We will continue to work with affected businesses owners, including the current Pier concessionaire. The halfway concessionary store, which can be found attached to the side of Southport Pier remains open.

“Despite unwarranted speculation about the need for the closure, independent health and safety experts will confirm that the Pier must remain closed until the full refurbishment project been carried out.

“It is also the case that the number and condition of piers nationally is diminishing, and the cultural and social significance of those remaining is increasing.

“Given the age, location and scale of historic structures of this nature, it is unsustainable for these to remain the sole financial responsibility of any Local Authority, as this report demonstrates in the case of Southport Pier. 

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“To me there is clearly a case to lobby Government for a national fund to address this pressure, and to ensure Piers receive an ongoing, ringfenced, realistic and proactive maintenance budget allocation rather than having to reactively respond as seems to be commonplace nationally.

“Everyone, not just the Local Authority, has to be totally realistic and accept that this is not a task which will be finished in a matter of weeks or even months. Once a funding solution is identified, we will ensure the works are undertaken diligently and effectively in order to restore and protect Southport Pier for many years to come, but we cannot provide any firm timescales at present, until a solution to the funding gap is secured.”

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