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Brighton tourist attraction asks to restructure loan repayments

A leading tourist attraction in Brighton and Hove has asked the council if they can reschedule its loan repayments to the local authority.

Members of Brighton and Hove City Council’s policy, resources and growth committee will meet next week (14 June) to discuss a request from the owners of the i360 seafront tower to restructure the loan and reduce the annual payments from £570,000 to £25,000 until 2024.

According to the committee report, the owners of the i360 are also seeking to renegotiate the loan they have the local enterprise partnership (LEP) and the council would receive £25,000 margin payment every six months with the rest of the margin deferred until sufficient money has been set aside to repay the LEP loan, except for June 2018 when there would be no payment and the December 2018 payment would be £50,000.

In a statement, the chair of Brighton i360, Julia Barfield, said the attraction, which opened in August 2016, is making an operating profit, but like many start-ups, it needs ‘to make some commercial adjustments while we build the business’.

‘Under the terms of our proposal, Brighton & Hove City Council would still receive more than enough money to repay its loan to central government. It would also still enjoy the £35m total profit agreed to over the 25-year loan period – but with greater flexibility on payment dates,’ said Ms Barfield.

‘This flexibility would enable the i360 to continue delivering the benefits already being seen in the city. To date these include supporting more than 100 local jobs all paying the Living Wage, drawing additional visitors to the city which in turn has benefitted the wider tourism economy, paying £2.5m profit payments to the council which has helped transform the seafront, giving free tickets to the city’s state school children and raising many thousands of pounds for key city charities.’

The council has also issued its own statement on the i360, which states the local authority has received £2.5 million since the tower opened.

‘The i360 is a new business and it isn’t unusual for a business to reschedule loan repayments in the short term to sustain profitability in the long term,’ said the council’s head of tourism and venues, Howard Barden.

‘It’s a sensible and pragmatic business approach. The attraction has already proven itself as a popular visitor draw and has made a significant contribution to the city’s local economy. In less than two years of opening, it has provided over £2.5m to the council, money that we would not otherwise have had.’

 

Picture courtesy of British Airways Marketing.

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