A fire that ripped through Eastbourne’s much loved Victorian pier is now feared to have been started deliberately. The blaze on Wednesday afternoon destroyed about a third of the 1,000ft (300m) long structure. Sussex Police said the force had received information suggesting the fire was started by someone “either deliberately or accidently”. It is understood there is “clear evidence” the fire was sparked in an arson attack. The main roof of the pier, built in the East Sussex seaside town in the 1870s, has been completely destroyed, leaving only a metal skeleton.
At its height, up to 80 fire-fighters, together with RNLI crews, tackled the blaze on the 144-year-old, Grade II-listed pier. The revelation that the fire may have been deliberate came shortly after Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne visited the pier. The prime minister said the pier was insured and that its owners want to rebuild it. The government has announced that up to £2m will be given to the resort. Cameron said: “I know that the loss of one of Eastbourne’s most prominent and well-loved landmarks will have hit the town hard and I am determined to do all I can to help local businesses recover.”
It is surprising in a time of austerity when the poor and disabled in Britain are being targeted and the Armed Forces are being dismembered that David Cameron believes that a necessary role of central government is to bail out the owners of burnt down south coast piers. The Government announced named 10 coastal towns which will receive £8.5m from the central fund amid fears among Conservatives about the strength of UKIP in many marginal seaside towns that could swing to Labour at the election.
So by what criteria did Eastbourne Pier qualify for £2m ‘Cameron aid’ in 2014 but not Hastings Pier in 2010. Proximity to a general election in a Conservative target seat where the Lib Dems have a small majority or did its owners go to Eton?
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