A CAMPAIGN to save one of Hampshire’s best-known piers looks set to receive a major boost.

Civic chiefs are almost certain to help Hythe Pier Heritage Association (HPHA) forge ahead with plans to secure the long-term future of the 136-year-old structure.

It follows the sale of Hythe’s ferry and pier to Blue Funnel, which has bought the assets from White Horse Ferries for an undisclosed sum.

As reported in the Daily Echo, the 700-yard pier could eventually be sold or leased to HPHA and restored to its former glory.

Speaking at a meeting of Hythe and District Parish Council HPHA chairman Peter King said the group was hoping to employ a project development co-ordinator.

James Binns, the council’s vice-chairman, agreed that recent savings made by the authority could be used to finance the role.

Cllr Binns said: “Hythe Pier is at the heart of our community. The public are fully behind this vital historical asset and we should recognise that by offering our clear and unambiguous support.

“Previous savings in the parish budget means we could use the money to fund a co-ordinator.

“He or she would have the expertise to secure grant funding. They would also be knowledgeable in charity law and have an understanding of project development, enabling them to to give the association any back-up it might require.”

Dan Poole, district councillor for Hythe East, also supported the suggestion.

He told Daily Echo: “I fully support the approach being taken. We have asked parish council officers to go away and look at this proposal.”

The plan is expected to be approved at a special council meeting this month in a move that would gives HPHA its first paid member of staff.

Julian Lewis, Tory MP for New Forest East, said: “I’m delighted that the parish council is looking seriously at funding a development co-ordinator.

“I’m extremely grateful to the people who have been instrumental in getting Hythe Pier to the position it’s in now.

“However, the proposal put forward would give this dedicated group of volunteers professional support which can only strengthen the future of the pier.”

Speaking earlier this month, Lee Rayment, director of Blue Funnel Ferries, said: “I look forward to holding detailed discussions (with HPHA) to explore opportunities to work together and secure the long-term future of the pier.”

The structure was opened in 1881 and boasts the oldest continuously operating public pier train in the world.