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Pavilion demolition will now take longer

Council bosses will have to pay an extra £218,000 to knock down Herne Bay's dilapidated pier pavilion after deadly asbestos was found in the building. Contractors surveying the aging sports centre – due to be demolished because it is too expensive to maintain – made the bombshell discovery last month. It was revealed to the city council's ruling executive committee on Thursday, and Pier Trust chairman Julian Jennings told councillors the group was concerned the discovery could lead to delays. He said:

"It could affect our 2012 summer programme when the whole country is celebrating the Olympics and the Queen's golden jubilee. The pier should be offering a programme of events that appeal both to residents and visitors and reflect these celebrations. If the opportunity is lost because of delays it would not reflect well on the town."

But officials said they were confident the work would finish in time, and stressed how important it was to the town. The historic pier was first built in 1831 and has been rebuilt twice since them. In 1978 a severe storm demolished part of it, leaving the pier head stranded at sea. Herne and Broomfield councillor Peter Vickery-Jones said officials would select the best contractor for the job rather than the cheapest. He added:

"It is a huge increase but we have no option. It needs to be done properly. It is not an option to leave the building as it is. We need to find the money and we should get on and do it."

West Bay councillor Peter Lee said the project would remain a priority, despite the increasing cost.

"To refurbish the building or rebuild it elsewhere would have cost £3.5 million. That is about the same as we have spent on Herons and Herne Bay High School."

The building is due to be cleared in September and demolition work will start in October.

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