Owners of troubled tourist attraction the i360 are unlikely to make any loan payments this year.
Since it opened in 2016, its management company has deferred £3.7 million in loan repayments to Brighton and Hove City Council.
And next Wednesday, a virtual meeting of the council’s Policy and Resources (Recovery) Sub-committee will be asked to defer both the June and December loan payments due this year.
A further £150,000 of the £612,000 promised as the December 2019 payment is also likely to be deferred.
The seafront attraction, which has been closed since the coronavirus lockdown started, is repaying the £36 million Public Works Loan Board loan, which was underwritten by the council.
Deferring payments will affect the council’s cash flow, according to the report going before the sub-committee.
Council investments are kept in short-term low-interest accounts at the moment to keep finances “liquid”, to help cover the extra costs related to the covid-19 coronavirus.
The report going before councillors said that the i360 would normally expect to make “significant income” during the weeks of pleasant spring weather.
As the government moves towards easing the lockdown, the visitor economy may not be a priority.
Social distancing, in whatever form it takes in the future, will limit numbers in the i360’s pod, shop and restaurant.
The report said: “In discussions with the i360 board, they have expressed optimism that they do have space for good social distancing.
“If they are allowed to open in July and August, they would benefit from ‘staycation’ tourism and start to see income coming back quickly in what are the two most lucrative months of the year. About 30 per cent of annual turnover is normally achieved in July and August.”
Another proposal put forward is a timetable of regular meetings between i360 management and the council’s i360 Member Working Group.
The working group formed in December and met with the i360 board for the first time on Wednesday 3 June.
During that meeting, councillors urged the i360 board to ensure that it sought all possible government financial support, including loans.
Visitor numbers halved in February after the first reported cluster of covid-19 cases in Brighton and Hove.
Two major storms in the same month also took their toll on visitor numbers.
In December, a report to the Policy and Resources Committee said that the i360 had contributed £89.6 million to the city economy.
The council also receives a percentage of ticket sales.
So far this money has gone to the fund for restoring the Madeira Terraces and festoon lighting along the seafront.
The “virtual” meeting of the Policy and Resources (Recovery) Sub-committee is due to be webcast from 4pm next Wednesday (24 June) on the council website.
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