The South Parade Trust (once the People’s Pier) are, as you may know, a social enterprise made up of a group of Portsmouth people from all walks of life who are working together to purchase South Parade Pier with the aim to restore it and bring it back to wider public use. Today sees the positive news that after a year of seemingly a Mexican stand off regarding repairs between the owners and Portsmouth City Council, the owners are now in negotiations with The South Parade Trust regarding selling of the pier after agreeing to sell to the Trust in writing. It is early days and it also seems at the moment there is no legal compulsion for the sale but Strong Island, like many other city residents, watch on with fingers crossed.
Only a few years ago such a proposition of a community group taking on such a project in Portsmouth might have been difficult to imagine. It is clear that the Pompey Supporters Trust’s successful takeover of Portsmouth FC at Fratton Park has been a catalyst within the city (and possibly further afield), creating a template for other community groups to adopt and develop. Despite many, many hurdles from financial to legal with many stakeholders not (excuse the pun) playing ball…it was the drive, determination & dedication of PST with the incredible support of both Pompey fans here & all over the World and Portsmouth residents that made it happen in the end. Not to mention the support of Portsmouth City Council and The News too.
With the hopeful successful sale of the pier it will see Portsmouth with another large community owned city asset, with the community at the heart of the organisation’s ethos. On top of this the city also has smaller but just as important charities and social enterprises also striving to create commercially successful but community driven projects. These include, but just a small tip of the iceberg, such organisations as Southsea Greenhouse & Wymering Manor Trust, but there are many, many more.
As well as these community driven projects mentioned above and also a few ambitious projects also starting up behind the scenes in Portsmouth at the moment too it looks like Portsmouth could be becoming a city where companies driven by community engagement and even owned by the community itself can make the city stand proud from other cities in the South and in the UK as a whole. We might not be the only Waterfront City but just maybe we are the city where the community can take ownership and make a significant difference.
Find out more about South Parade Trust at: www.SouthParadeTrust.org