PIER experts in Southend have offered to help out in Eastbourne after the Sussex town’s own pier was severely damaged by fire.

Officers at Southend Council said they are willing to share knowledge and experience with their counterparts in Eastbourne.

Southend’s pier was last damaged by fire nine years ago and the council, which owns and runs the structure, pumped in millions of pounds worth of investment and ramped up its safety measures.

Eastbourne was in shock last week when its Victorian pier caught fire, leaving a large part of the jetty damaged.

Lib Dem Graham Longley, deputy leader of the council and responsible for enterprise, tourism, and economic development, said: “My sympathies go out to the people of Eastbourne, who woke to find a local treasure left in tatters.”

On Friday, Prime Minister David Cameron announced the Government would give Eastbourne Council £2million to start a restoration project.

On the same day, it was announced the fire was being treated as arson.

It was in 2005 when Southend’s pier was last heavily damaged in a fire. In 2011, the council completed the installation of a £2.1m state-of-the-art sprinkler system, the only of its kind in the world.

Smoking is banned along the pier and there are a total of 14 water hydrants along the length of the jetty, as well as two bridging points for tugboats, which would allow firefighters to pump water to parts of the pier they would not be able to reach from land. The authority has also laid on extra night-time security, and the structure goes through regular inspection from insurers and the fire service.

Mr Longley added: “Southend pier is one of the town’s greatest assets, both in terms of its heritage and the huge number of tourists it attracts. That’s why we are committed to protecting it as best we can and investing to keep the risk of fire to an absolute minimum.”