A few days ago, we reported that Southend Pier had been sold to a Chinese shipping company in order for it to be dismantled and scrapped, and this led to a number of rumours circulating about the role of Southend News Network in the sale. Therefore, we have decided to release this statement to clear up any misconceptions and ensure that the truth is known by all interested parties within Southend On Sea. First and foremost, both the Chief Reporter and the Chief Executive must make it perfectly clear that Southend News Network is no longer in a position to purchase Southend Pier from Southend Borough Council, however we can confirm that negotiations did reach the final stages during a series of meetings in January 2016.
As a result of these discussions, both informally and formally, a deal was ‘agreed in principle’ for Southend News Network to purchase Southend Pier for a price of £10m – a fee that would be payable in ten monthly instalments for reasons that are to remain undisclosed. In addition to the agreed purchase price, negotiators for Southend News Network also wanted to incorporate a number of contractual conditions for the sale, and unfortunately these could not be agreed upon by the deadline of 1st February 2016 which was the deadline that was set by both parties. As a result of this, Southend News Network formally withdrew from proceedings shortly before this date, and a rival consortium from Xi Ping Shipping stepped in to secure a deal. Naturally we wish them well for the future.
We would like to make the public fully aware of the sale conditions that were proposed by Southend News Network. First of all, we made it clear that paying ‘above market value’ would require Civic Centre to be officially renamed ‘SNN Towers.’ In addition to this, we submitted a formal request for our current council status of ‘Official Media Outlet’ to be extended to ‘Sole Media Outlet,’ and our final contractual demand was for the Chief Reporter to be given the role of Honorary Mayor of Southend. In reality, the role of ‘Honorary Mayor’ would not have any real power in the day-to-day running of the town, but the very existence of the Chief Reporter in this position would piss a lot of people off, and therefore the proposal was a desirable one. We regret that council officials were not able to meet any of these three negotiating points, and therefore our offer of £10m was withdrawn from proceedings. In reality, there was room for movement regarding the media status, but representatives on the other side gave our negotiators the impression that this would have been a fruitless exercise.
As far as Southend News Network is concerned, the matter is now closed, and once again we would like to congratulate Xi Ping Shipping on their investment.