Clacton Pier’s ‘glimmer of hope’ over summer reopening
PUBLISHED: 12:12 12 May 2020 | UPDATED: 12:49 12 May 2020
NIGEL BROWN/CLACTON PIER
Clacton Pier bosses have welcomed Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown saying it provides a “glimmer of hope” for the historic attraction.
On Sunday evening, the prime minister outlined a potential date of July 1 to reopen parts of the hospitality industry with social distancing measures in place, as long as the crucial coronavirus ‘R rate’ remains under one.
More: PM announces lockdown changes – and schools could start a phased return in June
Billy Ball, the pier’s director, said the announcement provides a “glimmer of hope” and a potential deadline to work towards for reopening the pier – which draws almost one million visitors each year.
Back in February, pictures captured part of the historic pier falling into the North Sea, after a small section of the deck collapsed while concrete was being poured ahead of the installation of a new rollercoaster.
The rollercoaster, along with the white water log flume, were both set to be ready for their first customers during the Easter Weekend – until the coronavirus lockdown closed the pier entirely.
More: Sneak peek at pier’s new log flume due to open after lockdown
Speaking of the prime minister’s announcement, Mr Ball said: “We haven’t got too much detail so far, but that looks likely to follow over the coming week.
“However, what we have got is encouragement that there is a possibility of some of the hospitality industry reopening at the start of July.
“It is not a given – and all depends on what happens over the next month or so – but we asked for some guidance and now we have got that.”
Mr Ball said it will give the pier, which was built in 1871, the chance to get its own plans and measures in place to ensure it will be safe for both customers and staff when the time is right.
“Whether it is a small part of the operation, a greater proportion – or the whole site, then we can be prepared,” said Mr Ball.
“We have an earliest possible date and something positive to work towards. We can get staff retrained for the new measures we will need to put in place.”
Mr Ball’s message comes a few days after the pier owner said the tourism industry in Essex needs major government support after lockdown.
He is among many who have called 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.
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