The tourism industry in Essex needs major government support after lockdown – that is the message from the boss of Clacton Pier.

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Working with the National Piers Society to lobby Westminster for support after the coroavirus pandemic, pier director Billy Ball has set out his stall for measures to help inject life back into the county’s and the UK’s tourism sector.

Mr Ball is among many calling for an extension beyond June to the national job retention scheme in some form, as well as rates relief for the industry and its suppliers, increased grants, tax deferrals and even the possibility of making the remaining two bank holidays of 2020 into two-day holidays.

The society will take part in the consultation by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Hospitality and Tourism.

Mr Ball said: “We are not an all or nothing attraction – we are the largest pleasure pier in Europe at 6.5 acres – and as such can open different departments at different times.

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“This would help us to restore some level of income and small numbers of staff could be brought back to work and reduce some of those on the job retention scheme.”

The society took part in the consultation by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Hospitality and Tourism on behalf of all participating piers in the country.

The group is expected to return its findings by the middle of May.

Mr Ball said Clacton Pier has already started to risk assess separate areas and look at ways of upping cleaning and hygiene measures but felt that some standard guidance from the Government would be helpful.

He also acknowledged the benefit the existing financial measures and furlough scheme had on his business.

“Without it, around 80 jobs would almost certainly have been lost at Clacton Pier and we welcome what has been done through initiatives such as the job retention scheme,” he added.

“There are encouraging signs that the Government intends to continue to provide assistance.

“Tendring Council has also asked us to join them in supplying further information to the Government on the way forward for tourism.”

Tim Wardley, from the National Piers Society, said: “It is important that those on the frontline of the sector have the chance to speak up and we will continue to press the case for our piers and the tourism industry in general.”