Page last updated at 14:16 GMT, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 15:16 UK

Pier safe, says 'bankrupt' owner

Colwyn Bay pier
The pier has hosted a wide array of showbusiness stars

The owner of a pier says he will challenge a bankruptcy order which has forced him to close it.

Steve Hunt, who sold his home to take over the £4m restoration of Victoria pier at Colwyn Bay, Conwy county, is fighting to get the order annulled.

Mr Hunt said the future of the pier was safe as he was "not insolvent".

He said it had arisen from a dispute with Conwy council over tax and business rates. The council confirmed insolvency trustees had been appointed.

According to the Insolvency Service Register, Mr Hunt's bankruptcy will end in July 2009.

However, Mr Hunt said he was applying for the annulment to the bankruptcy order made at Caernarfon County Court.

Victoria pier Colwyn Bay

This order should not have been made

Steve Hunt, pier owner, reacts to the bankruptcy order

He said the order was made after Conwy council brought proceedings against him over a disputed bill for council tax and business rates.

"I'm not happy about this. This order should not have been made," he said.

The pier would be closed for a few days while he tried to sort the matter out, but he hoped to reopen on the weekend of 9 August, he added.

He had invested "hundreds of thousands of pounds" in restoring the pier since he bought it five years ago.

Rod Withinshaw, a trustee in bankruptcy with finance specialists Royce, Peeling and Green Ltd confirmed the bankruptcy order was made following a petition by Conwy Council.

He added: "I understand that Mr Hunt is applying for an annulment of the order and the matter is now with solicitors.

'Town's heritage'

"In these circumstances it would be inappropriate to make any comment."

The pier was once the hub of Colwyn Bay's social life, and stars such as Morecambe and Wise, Ken Dodd, Harry Secombe, Motörhead, Elvis Costello and Slade appeared there.

In the summer there used to be a resident orchestra and leading political figures also spoke there.

During World War II planks in the middle of the pier were reportedly removed, with the aim to deter any enemy landing.

Councillor Phil Edwards, mayor of Colwyn Bay said: "The pier is an important part of the town's heritage.

"We ought to be able to pull resources together to bring it back to the condition in which it used to be."

A spokesperson for Conwy council said: "The matter is now in the hands of the Trustees in Bankruptcy".

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