Hastings pier closed in June 2006 amid fears it would collapse
Hastings Borough Council has been called on to purchase the town's pier after a potential buyer pulled out.
The owners of Weston Pier near Bristol decided not to buy the structure, which closed in 2006, because it would cost £24m to repair and £24m for facilities.
Now Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust wants the East Sussex council to compulsorily purchase the pier to enable it to raise renovation funds.
But the council has said it does not want to risk taxpayers' money.
The trust says it wants the authority to use its powers, not its money.
Jess Steele from the trust said: "Its powers of compulsory purchase would take the pier from the owners that have abandoned it three years ago and pass it over to the community trust which is ready and waiting to raise external funds."
She said they were confident £4m could be raised, and they had already applied to several charitable trusts but none would allocate money until the trust had a prospect of ownership.
A council spokesman said the authority would be liable if something happened to the pier while in its ownership.
He added that a proper business case had to be put forward by the trust and that funding had to be secure.
"We need absolute assurance that the money is in place before we are prepared to take the compulsory purchase order," the spokesman said.
Hastings Pier is owned by Panamanian-registered company Ravenclaw.
The council said it had been unable to contact the pier's owners for some time.