You may have read in the local news this week that the director of the Brighton Fringe launched a scathing attack on the Palace Pier. This started a chain of events that are quite extraordinary. Dubbed ‘Piergate’ by The Argus, we look at the scandal that shook the city.
Tuesday, April 12th: Julian Caddy, the managing director of the Brighton Fringe Festival, tore into the Palace Pier calling it a “blot on the landscape” and a “massive PR problem” in a column for The Argus. This caused outrage across the city as residents jumped to defend one of the most well-known landmarks in the South East.
Wednesday, April 13th: Caddy admits that he “could have been more diplomatic”. He said “I do think there could be a greater variety of attractions in order to broaden its appeal. A key characteristic of Brighton is inclusiveness, and this is the same for Brighton Fringe, which reflects a massive cross section of all art forms and appeals to many different audiences. This is what I would love to see for the pier, I would love to see it truly offer something for everyone”.
Also Wednesday, April 13th: This admission comes after he told Brighton and Hove news that he had ‘not realised he was sending his thoughts on the pier to the Argus, having mistaken the reporter’s name for someone else’. He posted on the People’s Republic of Brighton and Hove saying that the aftermath had been ‘the worst 24 hours of his life’. He said “I deeply regret the offence caused. It would never and has never been the intention to cause offence. Brighton and Hove is a city that I love and have been bought up around…Hindsight is a wonderful thing. As is reading emails before sending them at 11:30pm on a Friday night, mistaking at the time just *which& Adrian you are sending it to who had asked for some comments on improving the pier, getting carried away but not checking properly or thinking it through, and then realising it was in fact to an Argus journalist and finding out early on Tuesday morning that not only has this gone into the Argus as an actual ‘piece’, it has gone on the front page and a double page spread with opinion pieces attached.’
Thursday, April 14th: Local bosses have waded into the debate. Pete Avey, who has been working on the beach for nearly 60 years said that those who enjoy the museums and high art in Brighton also enjoy fish and chips and the pier. He told The Argus “we all feed off each other – people come down for the Pavilion then they wander down onto the pier…people come here for the seafront and to see the sea and swim and all of that, and the pier and the pavilion and the wheel are all good extras”. Pete Blunden, who works at Moda and Soda in Gardner Street said “the pier has always been a bit hit-and-miss for me, I have lived here all my life and it is somewhere I always tell people to go and visit but it’s always a bit cheesy for me”
Friday, April 15th: The gripping saga continues as The Argus took to Wimbledon to find out just what Londeners think of Brighton. Speaking to fifteen people, they told the newspaper that ‘they love its traditional seaside offerings’. However, some did agree with Caddy and that “there are parts of Brighton that I find tacky”.
Will the debate rage on? Or will we be able to move on from this scandal? What do you think?
feature image: Yvonne via the Creative Commons license