Shotley Pier update (1 October 2017)
Around 350 people contributed to a total sum of £62,000 which was boosted to £124,000 with the national Co-op booster fund from Power to Change. The Community Benefit Society is now negotiating to purchase the pier as a community asset. The purchase price is one element, the other being the insurance premium required as soon as the Society owns the pier.
In order to create regular income, the Society needs to start trading: selling bespoke rum has been the first item which has been well received wherever it has been tasted, being produced by an award winning distillery to a very high quality recipe. At £60 per bottle it is not cheap, but it has been selling well.
The Society's Board has decided to stage the repairs over at least three years and include an apprenticeship scheme while working with contractors. Civil engineering in a marine environment is a skilled occupation with a shortage of workers and it is felt that the Society could help people gain that skill. The Society's legal structure allows it to directly employ or contract out, and to sell more community shares after grants have been raised, so it is able to mix and match funding streams. This enables the Society to do work that would not be commercially viable which is why community businesses exist, being able to take advantage of flexibilities that a commercial company could not. The Society aims to provide employment opportunities as well as continue to benefit from all the great volunteering that local people have generously provided.
Grant applications are being written, as several funders have invited the Society to apply as soon as it owns the pier. The Society will not go out to tender or appoint contractors until it has raised the next tranche of funding needed to renovate the first 100 feet of the pier, so expect things to stand still for a while. The Board will keep you updated on progress and intents to renew planning permission for the two retail units at the land end. The intention is to have temporary structures so that options can be kept open with regard to design. However, it gets a focal point for the Society to show its plans and commence small scale trading.
It is planned to have an open day at Shotley Village Hall in the autumn, to show some artistic imaginings of what the pier might look like one day, as well as tell you what milestones have been achieved.
The Society wants to thank the hundreds of people who have talked about their memories of the pier, and the many volunteers who helped to keep things going when the going got tough! There will be many difficulties ahead, but the group is strongly resolved to work through each stage as it comes.
For more information contact John Davitt (01473 787738) or Sally Chicken (01473 780052)