A UK seaside resort is facing "lockdown all over again" as its most famous attraction remains shut down.
Southport's iconic Victorian pier – the second longest in the country – has been condemned by inspectors and remains closed to visitors as the summer season rapidly approaches.
The situation has caused heartache for the town's businesses, who predict a crisis during what should be their busiest months. They say staff members have suffered "breakdowns" as a result of the ongoing disruption.
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The 1,000m-long pier was suddenly blocked off late last year, along with the Pavilion café and arcade at the end of the structure, after significant structural damage was found,
Months on, there is no end to the closure in sight.
The owners of Southport Pier Pavilion said in a statement: "We are, as you can all imagine, very frustrated with this and have received zero financial help as yet.
"Our business just stopped with zero days' notice, our stock went to ruin and our lives and that of our amazing staff paused. Some staff have literally had breakdowns because of this. It’s like lockdown all over again but with no help."
In September 2022, Sefton Council outlined £3m plans to replace the wooden beams which comprise the pier's surface.
But in December, further damage was caused during freezing weather leading inspectors to discover further problems.
It meant that the planned short-term closure turned into something much longer, leaving the attraction out of bounds for day trippers, businesses shut and out of pocket, and employees unable to work.
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It is not known whether the pier will reopen at all this summer, with that possibility dependent on the results of expert surveys which will reveal exactly how much work is needed.
Southport was one of the most popular resorts in Britain, with visitors including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Charlie Chaplin amongst those to flock there.
The pier has been the resort's focal point since it was built in 1860, but its condition deteriorated through the 20th century – and it narrowly survived an attempt to demolish it in the 1990.
Speaking about the pier's recent woes, a spokesperson for Sefton Council said: "As previously stated the survey being carried out on Southport Pier involves a thorough and intrusive assessment of the 3,600ft structure.
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"Due to the detailed nature of this assessment and the complexity of Southport Pier's structure, the survey will take time to complete.
"However we will update both business owners directly and the public through our official communication channels as soon as possible."
The spokesperson added: “We appreciate this is a frustrating time for everyone but health and safety remains our priority.”
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