The "community organisers" who lost out in their bid to purchase the bankrupt Hastings Pier are complaining. Yet there's a good reason to have such things in private hands. Shareholders, private such, don't just collect the profits when there are any, they also pay the losses when there are such:
Campaigners fighting to save Hastings pier for the community are “devastated and furious” over its sale to a businessman for a fraction of what it cost to rebuild.
The Eastbourne hotelier Sheikh Abid Gulzar was reported to have paid £50,000 for the pier, which was rebuilt with £12.4m of lottery money but went into administration last November.
Well, yes, but why did it go into administration?
Partly funded by donations from 3,000 local residents, it was subsequently hailed as “the people’s pier” by Ben Derbyshire, the Riba president, and credited with “evolving the idea of what architecture is and what architects should do”.
But now Hastings Pier Charity, which employs 44 people, has admitted that it has been unable to agree a new three-year business plan with its major stakeholders — the Heritage Lottery Fund, which provided £11.4 million for its restoration, Hastings borough council and East Sussex county council.
The organisation, which became the first community benefit society in 2013, had hoped to raise £800,000 to become self-funding but entered insolvency when it fell short of its target.
Nonetheless, it said it felt it would be wrong to ask its 3,000 community shareholders, each of whom donated £100 to get the project started, for more money to meet the pier’s operating costs.
Ah, so they've already tried that community route and despite massive subsidy it failed. Which is where this private shareholder thing comes in. We can, and should, assume that more capital will be put in. For without it it will go bust again. And with private shareholders there is at least the possibility of their stumping up more such capital, something which a community organisation clearly has great difficulty in doing.
The importance of those shareholders being revealed once again. Sure, they take the profits, but they also provide the capital to cover the losses, don't they?