FOR many years Brighton boasted two of the most beautiful piers in Britain as part of its magnificent seafront.

But the West Pier, a Grade I listed building, is now little more than a pile of rusting cast iron marooned on an island a few yards off shore.

The Palace Pier, which has the next best Grade II* listing, has lost much of its loveliness through the addition of hideously ugly fairground rides.

It is now more than 30 years since the Noble Organisation bought the pier from the small company that was struggling to meet maintenance bills.

Noble abolished the tolls and spent large sums on maintenance. They opened it in the evenings and put thousands of lights on it to make it sparkle.

The new owners saved the Palace Pier from a lingering death like that of the West Pier and transformed it into the south east’s most popular tourist site.

Yet Brighton does not love the Palace Pier in the same way as it does the Royal Pavilion, the great Regency crescents and the grand Victorian churches.

It’s because the Noble Organisation has taken actions which many people find crass and unforgiveable.

Firstly it removed the fine old theatre on the end.

The pier head on which it stood has been widened so that it detracts from the building’s symmetry. On it is an unattractive amusements centre and several rides which are an absolute eyesore.

They were erected against the wishes of councillors and conservationists. Although they are replaced periodically, they never improve in appearance.

Noble says the rides provide income which is essential in making the pier a viable concern. But other piers keep going while looking less garish and the loss of the theatre has been a big blow for Brighton.

They changed the name to Brighton Pier.

But this was too much for the people of Brighton. The name change was made 15 years ago yet no one I know calls it Brighton Pier.

Instead they insist on using the original name, which reflects how the design echoed that of the Pavilion a few hundred yards away. The Palace Pier was a success story for Noble in its first few years but I wonder if it is today. It has a rather tired appearance.

Three years ago Noble put it on the market but the sale was withdrawn after there appeared to be no interest.

The pier does not seem to be open as much in the winter as it used to be and Noble is having to spend large sums on maintenance to keep it going.

Noble may need help from the public and this will be freely available from most people, given some conditions.

Noble should work with the council in replacing the rides with new attractions that look lovely as well as making money.

Noble needs to welcome the i360 observation tower now being built at the root end of the West Pier as an innovation that will benefit the whole of Brighton, including the Palace Pier.

It must change the name back to the Palace Pier and admit that Brighton Pier was the wrong choice.

It was easy for the owners to adopt a truculent attitude towards the town when things were going well.

If, as I suspect, things are not quite as good now, they should aim for solid support from the city.

It would be sad if a resort whose seafront was once peerless should be pier less.