The owners of Hastings Pier have been “given the Christmas present they deserve” after further legal proceedings were started this week.

A Repairs Notice was tied to the gates of the pier – that was almost destroyed in a blaze last year – and notices have been sent to the Panama-based owners Ravenclaw Investments.

Hastings Borough Council has called on them to start work on preserving the structure or hand over the keys.

If the company, which has not responded to the council’s previous requests, does not start work in two months then a Compulsory Purchase Order will be made and ownership given to the Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust (HPWRT).

Councillor Peter Chowney, the council’s lead member for regeneration, said: “This is the sort of Christmas present the owners deserve. They have made no effort whatsoever to repair the pier and now they risk forfeiting it altogether. This is their last chance.

“It’s taken a long time to get to this point but thanks to the commitment of Hastings Borough Council and the HPWRT, I am confident that we will soon see our pier renewed and restored.”

The blaze at the Grade II Listed structure on October 5, 2010, took four days to put out and destroyed 95% of the upper part of the pier.

Councillors agreed to start Compulsory Purchase Order while the HPWRT secured funding of £357,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to get a business plan in place.

Simon Opie, trust chief executive, said: “This is a huge boost to the town and a great reward for the efforts of the trustees and everyone who has supported them. It is a Christmas present that they all thoroughly deserve for their courage and determination.”