Higher prices for Pavilion and museums will put off visitors, says Brighton and Hove opposition leader

Posted On 29 Nov 2016 at 6:00 pm

Much of the success of Brighton and Hove over the last few years can be attributed to its ever-increasing popularity as a tourist destination, both for UK residents and foreign visitors alike.

Every year over 8.5 million people visit our city contributing an estimated £780 million to the local economy. Make no mistake – tourism is big business for Brighton and Hove.

I was therefore, very disappointed to learn last week that the Labour administration on the council has decided, in its wisdom, to increase visitor charges at the Royal Pavilion by 10 per cent next year.

The rationale given for the rise is that the council needs to “ensure that the Royal Pavilion and Museums achieve admission income targets” in the face of falling visitor numbers to the attractions.

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Well, perhaps the Labour leadership need to go back to basic economics. They clearly haven’t learnt the lessons from the introduction of a £5 charge for non-resident visitors to Brighton Museum 18 months ago which resulted in a halving of visitor numbers.

I would be very surprised if the increases at the Royal Pavilion don’t have the same effect and visitor numbers drop still further.

Councillor Geoffrey Theobald

Councillor Geoffrey Theobald


We are always told that the reason city centre parking charges need to be so high is to act as a form of “rationing” of demand.

Whenever we have proposed reducing parking charges, we are lectured about how it will just fuel increased demand and make congestion even worse.

Yet the same logic apparently doesn’t apply to other charges such as for the Royal Pavilion and museum.

I gather that a task group is being set up by the administration to try to find ways of increasing the number of visitors to the museum.

I would like to make a suggestion to the task group – try reducing the charges. You might find that visitor numbers increase, enabling you to meet your income targets.

Brighton Museum

Brighton Museum


On a more positive note, I was delighted to see that work has now started on restoring one of the city’s most iconic tourist attractions, the Volk’s Railway, thanks to a £1.65 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

The restoration will provide a purpose-built heritage visitor centre at the Aquarium Station to tell the story of Magnus Volk.

It will create a conservation workshop to protect the historic carriages, enable restoration work to be viewed and provide training for volunteers to develop their skills and finally it will restore and bring back to use three of the original carriages which will increase capacity on the railway.

Diggers started dismantling the Aquarium Station and car sheds last month and both will have their foundations completely dug out in preparation for the new buildings.

The Volk’s Railway is very close to my heart as it is to so many of the volunteers and supporters who make such an important contribution to maintaining the railway.

It is sad to see the old buildings go, particularly the remains of Magnus Volk’s station on the north side of the car sheds.

However, they have been on their last legs for a number of years and this lottery money provides the perfect opportunity to give the railway a new lease of life and a boost for this important part of Brighton and Hove seafront.

Geoffrey Theobald is the leader of the opposition Conservative group on Brighton and Hove City Council.

  1. Valerie Paynter Reply

    A friend used to arrange to meet her daughter in Brighton Museum until the day she turned up and suddenly there is an admission charge. Art is central to both their lives. She used to live in the city but had moved to Shoreham Beach so no longer qualified for free entry and her daughter lives in London now. They are two of the museum’s lost punters. And they usually chose to take refreshments there too. She is quite bitter about it. Bad PR for the city. Very bad.

  2. Warren O Reply

    I think Mr Theobald misses the obvious fact that funding is so tight in our city due to the Government run by his own party slashing funding for councils around the country.

    To make matters worse, councils like Brighton and Hove have an even worse deal than many neighbouring councils with a significantly smaller interim payment to ease the transition.

    In fact, however you look at it, Labour run councils around the country are suffering, on average, worse cuts than Conservative run councils, even when the areas are similar.

    This is not fair. Yet Mr Theobald doesn’t call for this to be put right and doesn’t call for fair funding for our city. Instead he criticises our council when they are trying to think up of new ways to ensure we have the funding to pay for services like our museums.

    There isn’t enough to go around for essential services any more due to government cuts. So without entry fees or sponsorship for places like museums there is no way we would be able to keep them open. It’s not ideal, but something that has become totally necessary through the actions of the Tory Government.

  3. Hjarrs Reply

    Theobold has a cheek to complain about rising prices when his government has starved local government of funding. He is a member of a party actively pursuing policies leading to a collapse of the NHS, increasing levels of poverty, homelessness and malnutrition (in Britain in 2016!!). To be be a conservative supporter is shameful.

    Labour on the other hand have been the players of petty politics for years and now find that they are out of their depth. They worked with the Conservatives to block a Green administration 3.5% council tax rise, but they will raise council tax by 4% for the second year running. Labour complained about parking charges, again working with Conservatives to provide free Xmas parking at large cost to the council, now Labour not only cancel free Xmas parking but the prices are up and charges extended.

    On and on you can go with the way Labour have let this city down. It it is a common complaint across the country. They can’t even manage to make progress on the Victoria Gardens development when the funding is in the bank!

    Roll on May 2019!

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