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Council faces major payout after closing pier on health and safety grounds

A borough council has been ordered to compensate a business that folded after the local authority closed access to the town’s pier on safety grounds.

The High Court ruled in favour of Manolete Partners, beneficiary of a legal assignment of a claim by Stylus Sports, which had operated a bingo hall and amusement arcade on the pier in Hastings.

The council closed the pier from June to September 2006 on safety grounds after Stylus had become concerned about the structure.

Stylus had become concerned about the structural integrity of the pier and commissioned a survey, which was provided to its owner Ravenclaw in an attempt to make it carry out the repairing obligations under the leases.

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In January 2005 that report was provided to the council in an effort to persuade it to require Ravenclaw to carry out the required repairs and maintenance.

But the court heard that on 16 June 2006 the council gave notice to the pier tenants that it was exercising its powers under section 78 of the 1984 Act to close the pier from 4 pm on that date.

The council stated that in May 2006 it had served notice on the owner requiring a survey of the pier structure after pieces of metal were found to have fallen from the underside.

Stylus' claim was brought under s. 106 of the Building Act 1984.

Mr Justice Ramsey said it was Ravenclaw that had been in default, not Stylus and “the council is liable to the claimant to make compensation” under s. 106 in respect of the exercise of its powers under s. 78 of the 1984 Act in preventing all public access to Hastings Pier between 16 June and 12 September 2006.

Hastings compulsorily purchased the pier last year to hand over to a local charity, which intends to rebuild it following a fire.

The charity has secured £11m of Heritage Lottery Fund support for the project.

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