THE PALACE Pier has been condemned as a "blot on the seafront" that gives Brighton a "cheap" reputation.

The boss of Brighton Fringe has lashed out at the city's treasured landmark, stating "I hate the pier."

Julian Caddy, the London-residing managing director of the arts event, made the comments after the pier was bought last week by businessman Luke Johnson for £18 million.

He told The Argus the pier's "tacky sideshows, fish and chips and rock" gives the impression as cheap and out of date.

But the pier's new owner said its character was the reasons for its popularity and said he was "highly unlikely" to stop serving fish and chips.

Mr Caddy said: "I, personally, hate the Palace Pier in its current form. It is a blot on the seafront that perpetuates a culture that brings Brighton down and entrenches its reputation as a cheap, out-of-date seaside destination.

"The seafront is a ticking time bomb and in good time, I believe that the Brighton seafront will go the same way as other faded Victorian seaside resorts before it and become an embarrassment."

He called for "proper restaurants, bars, shops, galleries, a decent performance venue" and said the sideshows should not be the pier's "raison d'etre."

His comments have sparked objections that his views are "snobbish" favouring middle-class arts over traditional seaside exploits, according to The Argus columnist Tim Ridgway.

Mr Johnson, whose Eclectic Bar Group bought the pier on Friday, built up his vast business portfolio in part working at Edinburgh Fringe.

He said: "I do know a bit about Fringe festivals and alternative arts and do appreciate Brighton Fringe for all it does.

"I think it is great all the different arts that are going on in Brighton. I also think that people have certain expectations about what you get from a pier.

"It all goes in to making Brighton the city that it is.

"People love fish and chips, there are something like 10,000 fish and chip shops across Britain.

"The thing that has struck me in the past few days is the positive affection people have for the pier."

However, Mr Caddy is more positive about the i360, suggesting it was the "start of something" which could bring a "new angle" to attract visitors.

This week The Argus revived its campaign to "Put the Palace back in our Pier". A petition launched online on Monday morning was signed by more than 1,000 people in less than 24 hours.

Mr Johnson responded by stating the pier is financially stable with no public money needed to prop it up.

Roger Hinton, of the Regency society, said: "It was the destination for the working classes from London to come for a day trip.

"I think the pier needs to retain its character and perhaps it could be described as a bit tacky, but that's its character.

"The main thing is people love the Palace Pier.

"There is a place for quality arts, but there is a place for both and that's part of what makes this city great."

In April last year The Argus launched our Seafront 2020 campaign to trigger more debate on how we can ensure the continued success of our coastal communities.