AN ONLINE petition to save Bournemouth Pier Theatre has attracted nearly 1,000 signatures.

Karen Gibbs set up the petition three weeks ago after being saddened by the demise of the venue, which after being used to host entertainment since the 1960s, is being converted into an all-weather activity centre by developers.

The training manager said she has been buoyed by the support of the 942 people who have joined the campaign and blamed “bad management” of the theatre for its closure.

“So many of our historical landmarks have been ripped out and replaced with concrete blocks,” she added.

“The pier theatre used to have a fantastic atmosphere. The BIC is soulless by comparison.

“You never get the atmosphere at the BIC no matter how great the acts are.”

Karen, who spends much of her spare time attending shows throughout the country, said insufficient effort was made to save the theatre.

She also pointed to the examples of the Regent Centre in Christchurch and Tivoli in Wimborne as theatres she claimed have moved with the times.

She added: “It was badly managed. You never saw adverts for what was on apart from the faded old posters stuck outside.

“Every image you see of Bournemouth, the pier theatre is there. It is so sad that it’s going.

“Why don’t they ask the people of Bournemouth what we want?”

Councillor John Beesley said he recognised the theatre was held in great affection by some but that there was a need for more wet weather attractions in the area and was pleased developer Openwide is investing in the pier. “We have to recognise that the opportunity to experience varied live entertainment is very well provided for across the conurbation,” he added.

“Openwide have given a commitment to respect the structural integrity of the original building whilst potentially bringing something new and dynamic to the town.”

When told about the petition, international director of Openwide Rory Holburn, said: “No comment. I’m not going to say anything about that.”

He added that the development will be completed before the summer season.