A Brighton councillor has flagged up fresh concerns about the i360 finances weeks before the tourist attraction’s operator is due to make a £900,000 repayment.
Labour councillor Daniel Yates, a former leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, asked whether the i360 would pay the sum expected by the council at the end of the year.
Senior council finance manager James Hengeveld said: “I understand that it’s in financial difficulties so there will be some issues there.”
Mr Hengeveld said that the Brighton i360 Member Working Group was due to meet next week when it is expected to receive an update on the £47 million debt.
The working group is made up of three councillors – one from each of the three main political parties.
In the summer, a “cash sweep” brought in about £700,000 after the council agreed to “re-profile” the i360’s debts.
The concern was raised against a backdrop of rising borrowing costs, with the council having brokered a loan for the i360 through the government’s Public Works Loan Board.
The council has other big projects – funded through capital spending – and the council’s finance chief was asked about them in the light of interest rates going up.
As councillors debated the draft budget for the 2023-24 financial year, which starts next April, Mr Manvell said: “We need to test the affordability of future capital schemes.”
He said that it may prove necessary to curtail some capital schemes – or drop them altogether – if they become less affordable or unaffordable, with borrowing costs rising.
Outside the meeting Councillor Yates said: “I’m shocked that we have had to publicly ask an officer to get a straight answer over i360.
“It’s shocking that the Green administration hasn’t brought these concerns straight to members and the public who hold the tens of millions of pounds of debt that the Green and Tory councillors backed.
“We will have to wait until January now to hear from officers if we are going to be left holding the debt and our council finances hit further.
“It’s our money and our services at risk and we need better information.”
LIKE WHAT WE DO? HELP US TO DO MORE OF IT BY DONATING HERE.