New-look pier impresses minister

MINISTER for Housing, Planning and the Regeneration Lord Rooker cut the ribbon to open a new pontoon, part of a £2 million package of improvements for Gillingham Pier.

He arrived at the Victorian-built pier on Monday to be greeted by representatives of Medway Council and project managers Groundwork Medway Swale.

Lord Rooker, who is also chairman of the Thames Gateway Strategic Partnership, said: "This is another good example regeneration, making use of secondhand land, putting life back into the area and getting rid of decay and dereliction."

The Gillingham Pier project, which began in 1999, has been managed by the environmental improvements group Groundwork Medway Swale and started in 1999.

So far £1.45 million has been given for the work by Medway Council, the Single Regeneration Budget and Supplementary Credit Approval from the Department of the Environment, Transport and Regions.

Use of the area had been in decline since1970 and the pier was in severe need of upgrading. CCTV has been installed, lighting improved, and the western arm made an attractive viewpoint and anglers' area.

There have also been repairs to the dock walls including installation of safety features and refurbishment of the slipway.

Work still to be done includes improvements to the eastern arm for recreational and small business use.

Lord Rooker literally made a flying visit, arriving by helicopter from a London engagement and then being taken by coach to Church Green, Strood, for a bird's eye view of the Medway area.

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