"We'll do all we can," says council as it commits full support to Pier refurbishment

29 June 2023 8min read

Sefton Council has reiterated its full support towards the full refurbishment of Southport Pier following an emergency Cabinet meeting today (Thursday, June 29th).

It is estimated that the full refurbishment works required to ensure The Pier can open safely again could exceed £13 million, more than £10 million in excess of the £3m that the Council have already agreed to borrow to fund decking replacement.


In addition to the full decking replacement, this would include additional work to the Pier’s sub-structure and steelwork, but the likely costs of this full refurbishment project are beyond the affordability of the Council.

In order to address this significant funding gap, the Council's Cabinet has agreed to progress engagement as quickly as possible with potential funders and stakeholders, given the importance of this heritage asset to the town and to local businesses.

Speaking at the special Cabinet meeting today, Cllr Marion Atkinson, Sefton Council's Cabinet Member for Regeneration & Skills, said: "It is abundantly clear how important the pier is to all of us and that’s why as soon as we had feedback from the structural engineers, we called this meeting.

"We all want to find a solution to the issues facing this well-loved historic asset as soon as we possibly could.  

Emotional Attachment

"The pier is 163 years old and has an emotional attachment for many many people. It is grade 2 listed and it is the oldest cast iron structure in the country.

"Not only that but it is a very complex structure with somewhere in the region of 30,000 pieces of board, a length of 1.1km, and is the second longest pier in the country. 

"In the year 2000 the pier underwent a full refurbishment which included brand new wooden boards and steel.

"Not long after it was completed, faults became apparent. The work should have had a life span of up to 30 years.

"What we know now is the tropical hard wood Eki should have been 35mm thick not 25mm thick. The sap it seems that should have been removed from the Eki was left on in places which left the wood prone to risk. 

"The screws that were used at the time were not only the wrong screws which split the wood and made it vulnerable and furthermore they were also screwed into the wrong place, causing further vulnerabilities to the boards. 


"Steelwork wasn’t put back in the right places, poor connections created avoidable gaps and overall poor-quality workmanship led to defects in the paint. 

"Widespread corrosion was evident. 

"This is all evidenced as the council took the contractor to court and won, however the contractor soon went into liquidation after the findings of the court. 

"We also know now the noggins that sit beneath the boards were not secured in the way that they should have been creating a weakness that is fundamental to the challenges we now face.

"The train that ran up and down the pier it seems compounded the issues and was removed as a consequence.

"For the past 7 years the pier has had spent on it over £2.7 million pounds in repair work and necessary maintenance. 

"Colleagues will recall last year we agreed to replace damaged boards. Phased work which began in 2022 cost £206,000.

"However, on further inspections, more boards were identified as needing replacement therefore the Cabinet agreed to a full replacement of all of the boards costing £3million. 

"It is well publicised we agreed to borrow that money. 


"Throughout the summer of 2022 the Tourism team, health & safety officers and officers from across the council carried out daily inspections to ensure the pier remained safe for users of it, including the safety of the concessionaire. 

"At times, daily temporary fixes were being carried out on the pier to ensure it remained open in 2022 and to ensure as much as we possibly could that we made up for lost time from the dreadful experiences of the Covid pandemic.

"This I believe was recognised and welcomed by many and certainly not the actions of a council that would shut an asset at the drop of a hat.

"What would be the rationale we lose income, we lose visitors, the wider economy suffers. We done this as a last resort when experts say its unsafe, we have no choice. 

Further deterioration of the pier occurred during the infamous cold snap of weather in December 2022 when the UK was on alert to protect our most vulnerable from freezing temperatures.

"Some nights you may recall coastal parts in the region dropped to around minus 12.

"The weather infiltrating this already fragile structure, along with the legacy of poor workmanship, temporary fixes, end of life material albeit earlier than it should have been, unfortunately are the reason for the closure of the pier. 

"It’s not one thing. It’s a number of things. 

"We were instructed to close the pier for the safety of residents, tourists, customers and it is something which I do not believe we could or should have ignored, furthermore feedback from the report confirms this was the right thing to do. 

"Suggestions that we merely should have carried on and everything would be OK is simply ridiculous and dangerous.


"The number of piers that have been closed due to the cost of maintenance and repairs is telling.

"If there is finger to be pointed it should not solely be laid at door of local authorities who have seen the biggest reductions in their budgets by this Government since records began. 

"Given the costs associated with these ever diminishing yet, cultural, heritage and economic drivers Government must now recognise these Victorian assets are at risk and support them. 

"Funding must be provided not just for rebuilds or reconstructions but also for sustainable, regular and sufficient revenue to support their ongoing maintenance needs.

"So we will continue to look for a long term solution and now we can start to have some formal discussions about securing funding to reopen the pier.


"We know its importance emotionally, economically and historically. That’s why we continue to take action to secure its future for another 160 years.

"Our commitment is as clear and unequivocal as it can be.

"We want a refurbished pier and we will do all we can to work with whoever we need to, to get to that position."

View all news

To stay up to date on news and events in Sefton by subscribing to the My Sefton e-news bulletin. When signing up simply choose ‘All news, events and updates’.

Sign up
Recite Me Button