BOSSES at Clacton Pier are calling time on goldfish being given away as prizes following complaints.

The pier said it will end in a couple of weeks as part of a new lease agreement with a stall tenant.

The move comes following a promise made in the winter to review the situation after the pier received a number of complaints from individuals and Essex Animal Defenders.

Billy Ball, managing director at the pier, said the matter had been given a great deal of consideration at board level.

“We have always accepted that there are two sides to this issue. Some are strongly against goldfish being given out as prizes, and we appreciate that, while others are keen for it to continue – as evidenced by the numbers using the stall.

“Our position was that it is not illegal, and the stall was checked out by the RSPCA and given a clean bill of health in terms of how they looked after the fish.

“There are strict laws in place that have to be followed and it has been going on from fairgrounds for many, many years.

“However, we are not in the business of upsetting people and needed to make a decision.

“On balance we have decided that this practice will not take place next season.

“We are currently in a legally binding contract with the tenant, but this is due for renewal at the end of the season and we will make the change for 2019.

“That means there will be no goldfish handed out by mid-September.”

Mr Ball added that the stall holder is “very responsible”, has been operating for more than 40 years and gets his goldfish from a specialist pet shop supplier.

He does not give them to anyone under 16 unless they are with an adult, he has plastic bowls for sale for £5 along with fish food and hands out advice on how they should be looked after. Those playing the game are also offered alternatives to goldfish.

“We know that some people will be disappointed about this decision and you cannot please everybody all the time,” said Mr Ball.

“After a lot of careful thought, we believe that this is the best way forward.”

Essex Animal Defenders was due to hold a protest outside the pier on Saturday.