Published: 12:31, 27 July 2021
| Updated: 13:00, 27 July 2021
Determined anglers have demanded the reopening of a historic pier in Dover, despite concerns over "security risks".
Dozens of fishermen descended on Dover District Council's HQ in Whitfield to attend a meeting reviewing a decision taken to stop people fishing at the town's Admiralty Pier, which is more than 100 years old.
It comes as nearly 4,000 people have signed a petition calling for the popular angling spot to remain open, citing the physical and mental health benefits of the sporting activity.
A trial to reopen the landmark is being considered by the Dover Harbour Board, which oversees the running of the pier, however no clear timeline has been revealed and in the meantime it remains shut.
Cllr Charlotte Zosseder (Lab), who chaired Dover council's scrutiny hybrid meeting yesterday, said: "Everyone in the room is willing to negotiate and work together."
Admiralty Pier has been a location for sea fishing for more than a century, holding angling events since 1903.
The site was temporarily closed as the pandemic struck in March 2020.
It remains closed due to security and safety concerns, with limited resources available to fix it.
Hundreds of anglers across England have said the iconic pier is crucial for tourism, bringing in more money to Dover.
Calls were made for a compromise to be found during tense exchanges involving residents and the Dover Harbour Board in the main chamber of Dover council's HQ yesterday.
A board spokesman said a bid had been made for millions of pounds of government grant funding to invest in improving the pier's ageing infrastructure.
He also warned about greater potential security threats to the landmark from extremists.
The added: "I can't responsibly ignore the security issues.
"If that means we have to redesign our process to make sure we are comfortable with the liabilities we are taking on, that's what we have to."
Richard Yates, Dover Sea Angling Association chair, described the decision as "disproportionate" and "unworkable".
He told the panel: "Dover Harbour Board have repeatedly said in public that they want to work with local groups to find a solution.
"We hope that is still the case and the beginning of a discussion rather than a final position."
"It looks to the people of Dover that we just do not want fishing and find any excuse we can to stop it."
Meanwhile, the Angling Trust called for a "practical" solution to be reached quickly, with the pier supporting 30 full-time jobs.
Dover councillors from across all political parties also called for a resolution.
Cllr Mark Rose (Con) described the decision as "knee jerk" and "against the majority" as he said: "This is an opportunity for everyone to work together and get this resolved.
"I think somewhere there is a compromise where you all will be relatively happy."
On security risks, Cllr Kevin Mills (Lab), leader of Dover council's Labour group, said: "It looks to the people of Dover that we just do not want fishing and find any excuse we can to stop it."
It was agreed an elected member of Dover council's scrutiny committee would oversee and be involved in the trial talks.
No other recommendations were made. The petition can be viewed here.