Double the fine for litterbugs, urge Brighton and Hove Conservatives

Posted On 26 Feb 2020 at 10:35 pm

Fines for litterbugs should be doubled, according to Brighton and Hove Conservatives as the party pitches its council budget proposals.

The move would mean that the current £75 fine is increased to £150 and the £55 early payment rate rises to £110.

Councillor Joe Miller, the party’s finance lead on Brighton and Hove City Council, said that it would raise a vital extra £40,000 a year towards the cost of cleaning graffiti.

Councillor Miller and his colleagues are also pitching more ideas to fund the restoration of the Madeira Terraces.

He said: “The Conservative group on Brighton and Hove City Council have set out an ambitious, forward-thinking and caring package of amendments to the Labour administration’s budget.

“Our amendments put our city’s prosperity at the forefront. It does so firstly by providing over an additional £8.6 million to fund the regeneration of Madeira Terraces in addition to the £2.5 million already identified.

“The plan is funded from a variety of sources but mainly by following in many other councils footsteps and using the facility enabled by the Conservative government in investing in city assets.

“We plan to borrow up to £40 million to expand our asset portfolio by a prudent around 10 per cent from around £280 million to £320 million.

“This will be funded by borrowing from the government at very low interest rates.

“We will then rent these out to the city’s businesses at a higher commercial rate, with the rental money to pay back the interest and the original asset price bought over a 50-year period.

“But there will then still be a surplus of around £312,000 a year income which we can borrow against over 50 years to provide over £6.8 million capital funds to put into regenerate Madeira Terraces.

“This is what any sensible business will do. For too long we have been holding out for handouts to fund our problem while our city’s heritage literally collapses.

“So, I recently proposed that the Labour administration sell some of our higher-value, lower-yielding assets but they rejected that idea in a rather dramatic and exaggerating way that we were proposing selling all of our assets on which we rely for income.

“This was not the case. Anyhow, we have another plan as they haven’t. So now we are proposing increasing our assets and ring-fencing the funding income for our city’s major deteriorating heritage asset.

Councillor Joe Miller

“As well as this, we have then identified £100,000 of IT investment reserves to be released for a design, feasibility and business plan on Madeira Terraces so that if there is any revenue-raising opportunities in any designs coming forward, we may be able to borrow more again against this rental income in order to finish off the regeneration of the rest of the Terraces.

“Where Labour have failed here, the local Conservatives are picking up the pieces.

“The other £1.8 million comes using other revenue annually identified over the next two years to borrow against, in the same way as above above.

“The Labour administration has recently done the same by raising £5 million from borrowing against a £200,000-a-year revenue for the Corn Exchange and Royal Pavilion Phase 1 restoration – the city’s other prime historic asset.

“Let’s do something similar with the Terraces, we say.

“The advantage of such a regeneration project is obvious. Not only will it mean that we restore the asset but in 50 years’ time when the borrowing is repaid, we will end up with a large number of additional assets from the £40 million borrowed, which will hopefully go up in value, plus any assets in or on the terraces to make the Terraces financially sustainable.

“This will then provide rent to the council to fund public services and future regeneration.

“Both of these may also raise more rent in the short term than our loan repayments, depending on how many units are placed in there and the level of rental income received from them.

“Not only that, but a restored and regenerated Terraces will potentially provide a boost to the level of business rates received by the council, as well as activating a huge aspect of our crumbling shop window, the seafront, in our city.

“In turn this will lead to a huge boost in tourism, which in turn supports an array of businesses and employment.

“It is a win, win, win for us and so I hope the other political groups on the city council can put the city first, and put politics aside to support our plans.”

Councillor Miller added: “Finally, we are backing prosperity by amending the budget to keep business and traders permits at the same level.

“These hardworking people in our city already contribute a huge amount in their permit chargers. It’s time to stop asking them for more and more each year, keeping our city’s economy growing instead.”

The opposition parties are limited to six amendments during the budget council meeting scheduled for tomorrow (Thursday 27 February).

Conservative group leader Steve Bell said: “Overall, these are a set of amendments carefully crafted to deal with some of the cities current challenges, which are sensibly and prudently funded which I hope other groups may be able to support.”

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