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Group set to buy historic Shotley Pier after receiving £62k matchfunding Co-op's share booster programme

PUBLISHED: 15:29 08 November 2017 | UPDATED: 15:55 08 November 2017

Shotley Pier Group chairman John Davitt receives the cheque from Neil Turton, chief operating officer from the Co-op. Picture: SHOTLEY PIER GROUP

Shotley Pier Group chairman John Davitt receives the cheque from Neil Turton, chief operating officer from the Co-op. Picture: SHOTLEY PIER GROUP

Archant

A historic landmark which played important roles in Suffolk before falling into disrepair is set for a return to use after community fundraising efforts reached a significant milestone.

Shotley Pier has fallen into disrepair but it is hoped to be restored. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARYShotley Pier has fallen into disrepair but it is hoped to be restored. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Shotley Pier group expects to buy the heritage site in the “near future” after the £62,000 invested by community shareholders was matched by a charitable trust.

The group, which was set up to save Suffolk’s only railway pier, has sold shares to more than 400 people since it joined the Co-op’s Power to Change Community Share Booster Programme around Christmas 2016.

Once the pier is bought, the group wants to begin renovation so it can be used by fishermen, sightseers and birdwatchers, creating apprenticeships, jobs and new skills for Suffolk.

Group chairman John Davitt said: “We expect to exchange contacts with the owner of the pier in the near future, as all the conveyancing work has been completed. We are still selling community shares for the renovation phase of the project so anyone who would like to see the pier open for public enjoyment can help us by buying one or more shares from £25 each.”

The group has been working closely with Babergh District Council, which gave a £20,000 grant to the project.

Babergh councillor Peter Patrick, who has also bought shares and a picture at the group’s art auction, said he was “delighted” to support it. “We felt the community group deserved our support so we paid for the survey and an economic development grant, and continue to work closely with the volunteers to ensure Babergh help,” he added.

Neil Turton, chief operating officer of Co-operatives UK, said: “Shotley Pier is among a new generation of community owned enterprises that are bringing valuable local assets into the hands of local people. Community share issues are a pioneering way to bring finance into an enterprise while anchoring ownership and control locally.

Ged Develin, who oversees the shares programme at Power to Change, added: “When communities come together in this way, anything is possible.”

The pier, which was known as Bristol Pier when built in 1894, has been used to transport mail and munitions, as well as by fishermen and barge owners.

The group initially set a target of £350,000 for the pier project.

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