Well here we are on Christmas eve, I do hope you will all enjoy a break from everyday life and celebrate with family and friends. Whilst I don’t want to distract or disturb you I thought this might be a good moment to update you on where we are and what has been happening with the community project. We are ending the year on a high note with great support from the community and real progress with our plans. This will provide us with a great platform to start the new year and make the 2020’s a decade of action.
Earlier in the autumn you may recall that we had decided to rethink our plans to take outright ownership of the pier from Blue Funnel. Well I can now confirm that we have settled on an alternative plan to take a 999 year leasehold interest in the pier and associated structures. This has now been agreed in principle with Blue Funnel and our respective Solicitors are now preparing the contract. We expect this to be ready for signature early in the new year. Alongside this we will establish a rolling commercial trading and operational agreement with Blue Funnel that sets out the terms and conditions to provide for the continuation of the Hythe ferry operation from the pier.
Of course we must not forget the ‘Heart Beat of Hythe’, the clickety clack of the Hythe Pier railway is perhaps one of the most recognisable sounds that echos across the village as it makes its way up and down the length of the pier come rain or shine. To ensure that this piece of our heritage and history is protected and preserved I can confirm that Hythe Pier Heritage Association will take outright ownership of the train from Blue Funnel early in the new year. A legal Deed of gift is being prepared for signature. Blue Funnel will then lease the train back from us and continue to operate and maintain the operation. We can then begin the much needed and long awaited restoration works beginning with the existing carriage that is currently laid up in the pier workshop.
As we have said throughout this campaign this is a community project and over the last three years we have received great support and interest from so many of you, together with local businesses and community organisations, the Parish Council, District and some larger corporations. We are truly grateful for all the help and support we have had. Looking ahead we have now had an offer of support from the new ‘Men’s Shed’, which is being set up by Allan Fairhead. We look forward to their help working with us next year.
My own personal highlight this year was the opportunity I had to take part in the sponsored cycle ride around the Isle of Wight organised by the amazing Cyclocruz group based at the Lord Nelson. Over the weekend of the 6th and 7th of July around 80 of us made the trip and in the process raised over £8300 which is an amazing sum. Putting this together with the funds we raised just a few weeks later at our one day music festival ‘Rock the Pier’ we have been able to appoint lead designers ‘The Goddard Partnership’ who will be preparing the outline design proposals for the restoration and redevelopment of the pier. We plan to hold a public consultation in the spring to share these plans with you before finalising the scheme and completing our business plan and making applications to secure the capital funding we will need to deliver the project.
There is of course still a very long way to go and much work to do but in my journey through life I have learned some very important lessons. If you believe in something, if you care about something then don’t give up!
So if you care about the future of the pier, train and ferry and you share our vision for a new sustainable future where we work together through the Hythe Pier Heritage Association, the new community business that has been established to deliver this project for and on behalf of the community then join us and help make it happen.
Together We can
I wish you all a very happy Christmas