THE flamboyant new owner of Eastbourne Pier wants to add a berth for large ships at the end of the Victorian structure.

Sheikh Abid Gulzar, chairman of Lion Hotels, officially gained control of the pier yesterday and is already steaming ahead with his plans.

Speaking to The Argus yesterday he said he was working with his “heart and mind" and with "love and affection”.

He is currently finalising the designs with his architects and said one of his priorities is to have a berth at the end pier to allow pleasure ships to dock for day trips.

The West Pier in Brighton used to play host to steamers in its heyday, as did Worthing Pier.

The new owner said repairs are already underway with the focus on the damaged parts of the structure – replacing damaged timber, flooring, and fused lighting.

Today he will host an open surgery to allow members of the public to give their thoughts and suggestions on the pier.

He said: “I am going make the pier a very very high standard - that is my top priority.

“Eastbourne Borough Council and I have a very good understanding and we are going to have a meeting.

“We want to improve the business of Eastbourne and the more we do to the pier, making it better decorated and more fun, the more that will improve.

“I love the pier, I walk at least two or three times a day. I am very proud of Eastbourne.”

He added: “There is a lot of working going on and if I list it all I would be going for two hours.

“I have a good team which I have worked with before and new people who have joined.

“We are like a family and we must work with our hearts and minds and with love and affection.”

He also said any collections which have been carried out for the restoration of the pier he will match and then donate to a local charity.

Residents can meet Mr Gulzar and his team between midday and 2pm today at the entrance to the pier. If the weather is poor then they will move into the bar area.