CAMPAIGNERS have called for a new pub to draw more visitors down Southend Pier.

Campaign group Skipp has called for a new pierhead pub on the site of McInty’s bar, which was destroyed by fire in 2005.

Member Mark Sharp said: “We thoroughly believe a pub down there serving alcohol and food would be a goldmine.

“It’s a captive audience, even if visitor numbers are lower than they were before the fire.”

Skipp, which campaigns on a number of heritage and environmental issues around the town, has invited chains Marston’s Inns and Taverns and JD Wetherspoon to open a new pub between the pier train station and the cafe Jamie Oliver used to film TV show Jamie and Jimmy’s Food Fight Club, but is yet to hear back.

More than 280,000 visited the Grade II listed pier last year, the busiest since the 2005 fire, which also damaged the train station, shell shop, snack bar and ice-cream shop.

Visitor numbers have risen by more than 50,000 a year since the £3million Royal Pavilion was opened in July 2012, hosting events such as Southend Comedy Festival and Horror-on-Sea.

A new open-air amphitheatre is set to open in time for this year’s summer season and a £100,000 overhaul of last year’s maritime festival, featuring the “hot start” of the Venture Cup powerboat race between London and Monte Carlo in June is expected to pull in crowds.

But Derek Jarvis, Southend councillor responsible for culture and tourism fears the lack of year-round passing trade and the unreliability of the weather and transport down the pier will scare off potential investors.

The Conservative said: “While we would not rule out any community idea, I do not believe that a pub is necessarily the best thing for the pier or even a realistic aim.

“We have explored various options for commercial ventures such as restaurants over many years, but the common response is that it is not viable. Unfortunately in this instance SKIPP have shown extreme naivety in their understanding of how the pier and business works.

“Leasing parts of the pier is a huge challenge.”