Brighton i360 bosses should answer questions in public about the ups and downs

Posted On 09 Aug 2019 at 12:10 am

The i360’s board need to come before residents to give an account of why they are putting taxpayers at risk of picking up the bill for the debts of their failing business.

This is what I told the council’s Policy, Resources and Growth Committee at its most recent meeting because I believe that it is their duty.

They should not only explain their actions but face questions from our city’s residents who, if the i360 fails, will be saddled with the bill.

Many of us have been following the ups and downs of the i360 and, frustratingly, there appear to be more downs than ups.

After deferring two previous payments – in June and December last year – we were faced with another request to defer their latest loan repayment.

This time it was not for part of the outstanding instalment but for the full £1.342 million due at the end of June.

So the difference this time is that money from residents will have to be used to pay the interest and capital repayment to the Public Works Loan Board on the £36 million borrowed by the council and loaned to the i360.

We asked the Labour administration for a contingency plan last December in case the council has to call in the loan and take over the running of the i360. Sadly, to date, no report has been submitted.

I believe their time is up. We have a duty of care to our residents. We owe it to them to protect their monies and the investment which was made on their behalf.

We are right to demand an action plan to save the i360 under its present ownership or else engage with businesses who really are able to make it the towering success we were told it would be.

None of which changes the need for the i360 board to face our residents in public because they are the ones ultimately exposed to repaying their debt should the business continue to fail.

Councillor Steve Bell is the leader of the Conservative group on Brighton and Hove City Council.

  1. BrightonReader Reply

    Your party should have asked for a contingency plan in 2014 when your colleagues on the P&R committee voted with the Greens for the massive £36 million quid loan.

    That’s when you should have started the ‘duty of care’ for residents and to ‘protect their monies’ made on ‘their behalf’ not 5 years down the line.

    You and the Greens are the ones who have put council tax payers at risk of being on the hook for £36m.

  2. Rolivan Reply

    Yes it would appear people have short memories how many on that Committee back then still remain as Councillors.I know Cllr Shanks was re-elected.I wonder what the conversation was like in the Theobald household?
    Cllr Littman was another I believe?
    Never mind The Madeira Terraces will be restored and will be able to subsidise the loss.

  3. fed-up with Brighton politics Reply

    This was a rotten idea in the first place and the loan was even more rotten. Council taxpayers would never have gone along with this, had they been given a say. The wheel seemed to be doing OK, without subsidy, but was kicked into touch because of the I360. The council needs to be tough and proactive and get a clever businessperson on board who can make a success of the attraction, or close it down and see what money it can recoup – not a lot,judging by the council’s past record on the bunch who made off with the parking charges money, due to total lack of control or oversight by officers. You look at the I360 prices, which are hideous for a family coming down from London, with all the fares, food etc to pay for as well; there are days when we have so much fog that nothing is visible and what is there to see really? Sea, wind farm and rooftops. I had a better view, for free, when I had a friend with a top-floor flat in Edward Street. But, mainly, the bullet that is impossible to bite is the fact that the council just lets these people defer due payments, the situation is allowed to drift and nobody has the guts to call it a day on the present management of the I360.

  4. Rob Reply

    Given how clueless the management seem and the way the debts are piling up, taking questions in public from our elected representatives would seem to be the least the board could do.

  5. David Reply

    It was obvious from the start that if the private sector would not lend the money then the business case would not stand up. The directors need to stand up to their responsibilities and realise they are trading a company that is heading for administration. They should reach agreement with the council that all ownership will pass to the council. The council can then put the business up for sale. They will not get enough to cover the loans but at least the business would then be able operate at a profit without the debt burden. The council will probably be £25 million down but at least it would put a line under it.

  6. ROB H Reply

    The Tories voted with the Green Councillors for the public funding of the i360 back in 2014. Will Cllr Bell apologise for this? There should be a full investigation into the decision making behind the funding of the i360 and why more than £40MILLION was spent on this loss making tower.

    • Rolivan Reply

      I dont think the blame should be laid at Cllr Bell or The Conservatives just those that went rogue.Also it was from the loans board not a fund.
      I think that Those Council Officers responsible at the time should be held to account as they were the ones who advised Cllrs as to its viability.

      • ChrisC Reply

        ‘went rogue’?? Absolute nonsense.

        Do you really think the Tory and Green groups hadn’t discussed this in advance and decided to grant the loan?

        Councillors don’t just go rogue. Theobald was leader of the Tory group (and IIRC previous leader of the council) at the time not some neophyte councillor

        Where you you think the Public Works Loan Board gets it’s money from – the taxpayer – with the requirement that it is paid back. And it will be paid back because the council guaranteed the loan. It’s listed in the councils annual accounts as a liability to be repaid. And it’s listed in the governments accounts as a liability as well.

        • Rolivan Reply

          So you know for a fact how the vote went and that all of the Cons on the Resources and Policies Committee voted for it?
          Also I know where the money came from.

          • ChrisC

            Yes I know for a fact how the vote went as it’s in the minutes of the meeting available on the councils website. It’s the P&R meeting 6th March 2014 if you want to go and look it up.

            It was 7 in favour – Greens and Tories and 3 against – Labour.

  7. Rolivan Reply

    More the reason why Cllrs Littman and Shanks should step down along with any Con Cllrs still in Office, Cllr Peltzer Dunn springs to mind.There should be a full enquiry into who convinced the Councillors that there was a sound Business case to Borrow money.I think what makes things worse is there is no default clause.

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