The chairman of the now-closed Look & Sea Centre has offered a ray of hope for its future.
The popular tourist attraction in Surrey Street, which included the Harbour Lights café, visitor centre and heritage exhibition, shut suddenly on Friday afternoon after the board of directors informed staff they would be losing their jobs.
Andrew McLachlan is the chairman of Look & Sea Ltd, the trading arm of the operation, which went into administration. He explained that the closure was due to the Harbour Lights café not making enough money to pay the rents and rates on the building, which is owned by Arun District Council.
The educational and heritage arm of the centre was led mainly by volunteers and run by The Littlehampton Experience, a not-for-profit organisation. While this had gone from ‘strength to strength’, the restaurant payed for the whole building to stay open – so this side of the centre will remain in limbo until such time as it can open again.
Speaking on Friday, Mr McLachlan hoped that Arun could step in and save it. He said: “We would like to hope that with a fair wind from Arun, they could get the place up and running again. At some stage in the future, like the phoenix rising from the ashes, we would bring the heritage, community and educational side of things back together again.”
To do this, he added, ‘Arun would need to look at how the building runs and establish an income stream that allows these activities to take place’.
The chairman said the board of directors informed Nigel Lynn, chief executive of Arun District Council, of their financial situation ahead of the closure, and according to Mr McLachlan, Mr Lynn was ‘supportive of the idea of getting it going again’ and he had ‘proposals he would like to to put to the [cabinet] members’.
In response, a spokesman for Arun District Council said: “Arun District Council was very disappointed to be told that the Look & Sea Centre had ceased trading. The building is leased from the council on a long lease.
“The council will be seeking to speak with the administrators, White Maund, regarding the future of the business. Once this has happened, we hope to be in a position to comment further.
“Anyone who has any queries relating to the Look & Sea should contact the administrators at firstname.lastname@example.org.”