Brighton i360 gives £90m boost to local economy

Posted On 20 Nov 2019 at 11:16 am

The Brighton i360 has given a £90 million boost to the economy of the local area, according to a report published this morning (Wednesday 20 November).

The independent report found that the seafront attraction employed more than 120 people directly and supported almost 450 jobs in total.

It has also contributed towards the cost of revamping the surrounding area, with revived arches now housing local businesses which contribute to the local economy themselves.

And these had been boosted by new attractions like the neighbouring Upside Down House.

The report, by the Marshall Regen consultancy, said that by the time the i360 has repaid two key loans – worth £40 million in total – it will have contributed £640 million to the Brighton and Hove economy.

The business has faced criticism for deferring about £2.5 million in repayments to Brighton and Hove City Council which brokered the i360’s biggest start-up loan – worth just over £36 million.

But behind the scenes, moves are believed to be under way to reschedule the debt, perhaps altering the timetable for repayments.

The underlying message, though, appears to be that the money will be paid off in full and within the original timescale as far as possible.

With the publication of the Economic and Social Impact Report today, i360 bosses spelt out the bigger picture.

They were doing so just over a week before an official report is expected to update senior councillors on the attraction’s performance, including its visitor numbers and financial results.

The i360’s chief operating officer Ian Hart said that things were looking for the i360.

He said that the picture over the first three years was a positive one, with the i360 having become Brighton’s top paid-for visitor attraction.

The Marshall Regen report said that it was the primary reason for coming to Brighton and Hove for 1 per cent of visitors.

Although the percentage is small, with more than 10 million tourists or visitors each year, this equated to 100,000 people.

And since opening in August 2016, the total number of people going up the i360 has topped 1.1 million. The attraction has also worked extensively with local schools and charities.

Ian Hart

Mr Hart spoke about plans to improve and extend the i360’s marketing reach, adding: “There is a lot more potential.”

Founding director Julia Barfield said: “We take our social and economic responsibilities very seriously and we have been a catalyst for regeneration in the local area.

“The report found that we have directly attracted about 100,000 visitors to Brighton. And we can improve on that.”

She said that the i360 was not only Brighton and Hove’s top paid tourist attraction but now a key landmark on the seafront. And with sponsorship from British Airways, it was helping to put Brighton on the map for even more people at home and abroad.

Architect and designers: Julia Barfield and her late husband David Marks celebrating the first anniversary of the i360

She added: “Our economic and social value impact is significant both as a visitor attraction paying the living wage and as an environmentally responsible business addressing climate change challenges.

“I am delighted to champion our commitment to working with and supporting local businesses and in contracting with a wide range of local suppliers.

“We pride ourselves in showcasing the work of many Brighton and Hove artists.

“The Brighton i360 board has plans to continue to improve the performance of the attraction.

“We will strengthen our focus on marketing, develop a diverse range of offers and work closely with partners – including Visit Brighton, the Tourism Alliance and the city council – to ensure that Brighton i360 remains a key part of the city’s economic, cultural and social identity in the future.”

  1. Mia Reply

    As one of the shops in the arches that the report infers were revived by i360 I can put the record straight on that. The council paid for this long before the i370 was even breaking ground.

    The company who wrote the report makes claims that the shops have benefitted hugely since the I opened. Well they never came to see me so how would they know this? Five of the shops have closed due to lack of footfall since opening in 2014

    The new ceo I wouldn’t know if I saw him and as for supporting local businesses and working together the i360 never involve us in their planning since he started

    As an example, this weekend they are apparently having a big event they have involved the upside down house in but we just found out about it today in a conversation overheard at the event .

    They have not addressed the three missed payments of £575,000 they have defaulted on that was for local community projects and they have not let us know if they will miss the one due in December

    I note the view is that by the end of all payments due for loans they will, in the end, pay them….,probably !

    This report is not based on facts and is merely an elaborate attempt to shine and promote and justify the i360 .

    The figures are wildly inflated and it’s simply not even possible to make a claim that they’ve brought 90m to Brighton

    Brighton is always and has always been heaving and packed in summer. Winter not so much. That has always been the case and will always be

    The seafront looks much more slick it’s true but that is due to the regeneration done by renovations to it that have nothing to do with the i360

    I don’t trust this report at all as they have not even spoken to the businesses directly affected

    More pomp and figures plucked out of the air to cover up what remains a failing attraction

  2. Timothy Galvin Reply

    This is clear PR nonsense. We cannot nationalise losses. Shareholders need to be wiped out.

  3. Rolivan Reply

    Still no mention of how The West Pier Trust are benefitting or not from the Financial difficulties the i360 and therefore The Council Taxpayers of The City who are Guarantors for the Loan.Also no mention of the extra money borrowed by the Council for the so called Landscaping around the i360.

  4. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    It sounds as though the three commenters above would welcome its collapse. And so what would they do about a long-term project? Replace it with Dodgems?

    • Rolivan Reply

      No Christopher, like a lot of people said when funding was approved,that the proposed visitor numbers would not be achieved.I still think that £36m borrowed from the same source for The Madeira Terraces would have been a better proposition and return for Council Taxpayers.

  5. Mia Reply

    And I see on news just now that another comment made is grossly economical with the truth

    The claim is made that the i360 has brought at least 140 jobs to Brighton locals . I’ve no idea why they think they employ that many . Pop in to i360 and you will potentially see 6 bods on computers , 2 personnel on pod, three security guards, 3 maybe 4 in their shop.

    You can’t count restaurant or event revenue cos they’ve sold those off to an event company which means some of the staff on site don’t even work for i360 !!!

    So the survey tells us 140 jobs ! But they have also stated they have saved lots of money but cutting back on staff. Both comments are designed to one show how great an employer they are and the second is used to help us see they arnt wasting money… so which one is it? … it can’t be both

    Every June and December they are meant to , each time pay £575,000 … this is an interest golden bonus which definately persuaded the council to arrange the loan. This was agreed and it was a real incentive to get council to agree the build. So we are currently 3 x £575000 not paid and in December I’m guessing that will make it 4 defaults

    You can’t say everything is just fab and then not pay these interest payments

    You cannot claim your restaurant and events is doing great if in fact you don’t own them or get paid much for the event,,, in the summer the i360 sold off their beach restaurant and all events to an events company who are not local. The only profit goes to Sodexo

    I’n fact our council tax has increased and some folk did warn us we’d pay the loan through charging Brighton folk more

    They say they are running the attraction on a working profit… that all is great . If they didn’t have loans and bills to pay Theyd be able to pay what they owe ! well heck if I ignored my business loan, my stock purchased but not paid for yet, I’d be swoooshin on high profit too

    The ticket office has been closed with ticket purchasing now happening from the shop tills. So I’m guessing that cuts out another two jobs for locals

    The truth is , like today, everytime I looked up at the pod I could only count max 10 on board

    Going back to the employees issue , I used to help run the much missed and loved market and hand on heart in order to build the tower many many people lost their businesses. A cafe that had been there for 29 years and not even offered one of the arches. The bike man who ran his business very close to base of west pier, just evicted and lost an incredibly successful business . The market that was so incredibly loved, we got 6000 petition signatures in less than a month to save the market . This too was evicted, we (market traders) wee forced to close. I can prove the numbers as I still have all our registered traders on file as I used to do papers etc for those in charge. We had about 50 stalls . These were evicted and losing their jobs was very tough.

    So
    Firstly they havnt helped local shop/traders
    2. They havnt gained 140 jobs as they evicted over 60 thriving businesses
    3. Well 3 is stating no one compiling this report spoke to me, it’s time to stop all the fluffy PRthat means nothing . Simple communication and work out a plan that is real. Based on real information and facts

    • Mia Reply

      Well the point is that if it collapsed it would make no difference

      It is simply wrong to compile a report, rammed with rubbish and claims when they’ve not even approached us

      The whole point is that we paid a higher rent because we were so close. The reasoning being that 800,00” visitors would come.

      It didn’t and it hasn’t paid what is owed. If any of us defaulted there would be meltdown

      It matters that people see it for what it is. See it from another perspective. It’s not being negative or planning its demise. it’s about being realistic, and more importantly creating an honest plan

      It would be crazy to want it too collapse

      The long term plan should be honestly admitting they got it wrong, paying what is owed and communicating with the local businesses that the claim the care about so much !!

  6. jon Reply

    No wonder Christopher Hawtree is trying to defend it
    It was the Green council of which he was a significant part that caused this chaos and drain on the City’s tax payers for decades to come

  7. Rolivan Reply

    Of the £46.2m it cost to build how much did Marks Barfield and or Associated Companies receive in fees?
    Has The West Pier Trust received less in rent than originally agreed and are The Council receiving Business Rates?

  8. Tom Reply

    There are many aspects of the West Pier Trust that are strange, bizarre and highly unnatural…

  9. Mia Reply

    As I understand it they are paying a high rent to the west pier trust without any defaults so far

    The west pier trust is set up to rebuild the west pier . I’m baffled then why there have never been any real plans to achieve this

    I do know many people have put forward a number of plans but none were acceptable by west pier trust leader or perhaps the council . One comment was that as the old west pier was destroyed due to arson then no one wants a new pier in case it happens again. Rather a dubious reason as the palace pier is thriving with huge profits cos the owners understand the public so it’s rather a bizzare reason .

    The leader of the west pier trust earns a very large salary but it’s hard to know what she does . Nice job if you can get it !

    The original plan as part of the seafront regeneration and landscaping surrounding the i360 was for remnants of the old pier being used in the landscaping . This was to include creating a structural base for the large renovated booth .

    This foundation was created which probably cost extra but sadly the booth has not been renovated or of course installed

    During landscaping when hoarding was up the west pier trust put huge advertising on the hoarding saying how this was going to happen with lots of info. The leader of the trust was so angry when someone put something in front of it as she’d paid for it and in her words …,” this is an extremely important part of the development of the west pier trust and we want everyone to know about it “ a few weeks later it was announced that the booth would not be placed due to lack of funds.

    The west pier trust then decided to lease one of the arches as a visitor centre !!! Hang on a moment ! That was what the booth was for

    After looking into this I discovered the trust pays this lady over £40,000 and I know the arch costs £12,000 per year

    I can’t recall the rent i360 pays the trust but it’s big money , huge !

    I can’t help thinking that if a local group led the trust rather than just one person , if they saved the rent money , I bet you there would be enough money for the booth

    I for one would do this for nothing. I know many locals who adore the west pier, it’s history and it’s potential future.

    It makes me so sad , when you get to know the real truth behind all the PR gained from varying reliable sources and find that very little of what’s put out in adverts statements projections excuses reasons etc is really a flexi speak for something else entirely

    Do we really believe that the i360 want a new west pier that would compete with them ? Of course not

    Question is then, what is the point, goal etc of the trust

    Do we really believe that one person financially gaining from the trust existing is really going to want a new pier thus making her job unnecessary

    As far as I am concerned I have no problem with supporting the i360 as I have done despite my reservations at times but it has reached a point now where I simply cannot support them any further

    Publishing this report filled with lies, reading the Argus today, more unfounded claims and more twisting the truth , I’m done supporting them.

    There is so much that goes on that no one joins the dots on and we all sit back and say here we go again

    Every time I go to the lanes several more shops have closed so clearly they weren’t part of this survey. That maybe irrelevant but it is true

    When the Brighton wheel wanted to continue the i360 did everything in their power to make sure it did not get license renewed. They saw the wheel being like the London eye (which is daft) as being too much competition . They made darn sure it went. I’m glad that company stayed strong and found another attraction the i360 could t object to

    When the arches to the east of i360 were constructed to be beach huts , thus providing something for local people and a great social community to evolve again. The i360 decided they would only succeed as a business if all arches surrounding them were commercial retail. So the planning application for change of use was applied for and granted. Eleanor Harris made sure she got what she wanted.

    Those arches we were assured when taking our shops on the west side were absolutely not going to be retail so we would be the only retail outlets that end of the beach. We opened 2014 on that information. Two years later that assurance became invalid

    The east side arches are not the local community spirit giving back to Brighton bods but are two restaurants, two ladies retail outlets, a gallery, the west pier trust centre and the rest the wind farm lease for no apparent reason . They did pop up shops but these didn’t work

    So it goes on, lots of Fools and many horses !! A lot of ducking and diving … wheeling and dealing !

    It’s all very fake and how I’d love someone to come along, figure out the whole debacle , see what real and truth and sort this mess out

    I know that won’t ever happen but on behalf of all my friends who were evicted to make way for the i360 it makes me very sad that in the end it’s been for no good reason

    I’ve looked positively so far but I’m done now and yes it matters, if we don’t have justice and support for what’s right then we have nothing

    If you notice the only ones benefiting here are the big corporates . If you also notice the majority of businesses going under are the big corporates who a week before they went under we’re telling everyone everything is ok

  10. Mia Reply

    Ps. Read the report carefully ! It basically says on all counts it’s provided millions to all sorts

    Just remember to note that these are not actual donations from their profits

    These are what they think by being here they have “influenced” people to spend in Brighton or visit Brighton

    There is no way you could say this is fact unless you asked every flippin bod who left the car parks and station when they left

  11. Terry Reply

    When corbyn gets in it will be free. Nuff said

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