ONE of Falmouth's most iconic piers is in such a bad state of repair it requires "significant" investment as parts of it fall into the sea.

Falmouth mayor Steve Eva told members of the town council's finance and general purposes committee on Monday that steps on the Prince of Wales Pier were disintegrating at an alarming rate. He said since the last inspection by Cornwall Council in June the destruction had accelerated with more steps falling into the sea.

Falmouth Packet:

"We got steps falling into the sea on Prince of Wales Pier and it's dangerous down there," he said. "It belongs to Cornwall Council I really want to find out what they are going to do about it because they don't want to spend money, but it is their responsibility to keep people safe."

Town clerk Mark Williams told councillors the situation had got much worse since the survey had taken place.

Cornwall Councillor Jayne Kirkham said she had had an email from Cornwall Council which confirmed the situation had got a lot worse since their last inspection with the steps suffering from concrete cancer.

"Yes, it has got worse," she said. "More steps have fallen into the sea since the condition survey in June." Reading from an email she had received from the council she said: "The pier has deteriorated more than expected at this time.

Falmouth Packet:

"Our plan was to undertake repairs over the winter but these are now more extensive than the initial programme we will know what can be achieved when Cormac have visited.

"'More steps have fallen into the sea, the structure is suffering from concrete cancer. Repairs undertaken in recent years are failing due to the fragility of the original structure the pier will require significant investment to remain serviceable in its current form, an alternative may be to install a pontoon system alongside or in place of the pier with ramped access."

She said a meeting Cormac took place on Monday to see if any short term repairs could be undertaken to see if they can bring the closed steps back into action. "With steps 1, 4 and 6 in operation we can maintain these links to the community through the ferry links, should steps 4 fail these will be restricted by tide," the email said.

Falmouth Packet:

Cllr Jude Robinson said: "Basically they are going to do the least possible repairs they can because it's Falmouth."

Cllr Eva said he was more worried about people being safe down there.

"I'm more worried that they're safe because the kids down there play. If they start going down on the steps and suddenly the steps go in and and they fall on top of somebody especially if they're like ten or 11-year-old, you know it will be extremely dangerous. We need to know what they are doing to make it safe."

Cllr Allan Jewell that there were eight lots of steps on the pier so they will still be able to operate but they will have to close off the steps. "If we get the pontoon on the side I think the whole thing will have to be replaced," he said. "The pier's coming to the end of its life. It's a 100 years old."

Cllr Dave Saunby said: "Only the other day the pier master came up to me in a bit of a flap saying another set of steps has gone so it does need looking at."

Councillors agreed to write to Cornwall Council saying it was very concerned about the state of the pier and the continuing deterioration of the steps and asking what its plans are for repairs and long term renovations and for making them safe.

Falmouth Packet:

In a statement issued to the Packet, Cornwall Council said: 

"The Pier is safe for general public access and ferries operating winter services are doing so from steps 1, 4 & 6 with no service disruption.

"Late last week Steps #3 were closed following the failure of a step which the St Mawes ferry was moored to. A surveyor and contractor attended this week to develop a repair plan for them.

"Steps #2 and Steps #5 require significant structural work, which is currently being costed, and so they will remain out of service for the time being."