Warren Morgan: Trust status would help secure pavilion’s future

Warren Morgan, leader of Brighton & Hove City Council
Warren Morgan, leader of Brighton & Hove City Council

The Royal Pavilion is the jewel in our city’s heritage crown, the symbol of our city, the heart of our unique and diverse tourism offer. 
It is right that we do whatever we can to preserve and enhance it for future generations of residents and visitors.

Next week we will establish a trust to secure the long-term future of the pavilion and our award-winning museums, to take over the management of the Royal Pavilion, Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, Hove Museum and Art Gallery, the Booth Museum of Natural History and Preston Manor from April 2018.

The new trust will be backed by a 25-year funding agreement, to be reviewed every five years. Crucially, ownership of the buildings and the city’s collections will remain with the council.

Overseen by a board of trustees, including councillors, the trust would be a non-profit organisation and have charitable status, enabling it to include gift aid on admissions, qualify for business rate relief and cultural exemption on income.

Due to the huge central government funding reductions which are affecting all council services, the city’s museums, including the Royal Pavilion, could face having their council funds reduced from £1.145million in 2016/17 to £753,000 in 2019/20. This would potentially harm our city’s culture and tourism, something we can’t allow to happen.

In addition, a building condition survey in 2015 identified a need for £1m a year for repairs and maintenance. Many of the buildings are heritage listed.

A trust would have more scope than the council to raise funds to support the maintenance budget. It would complement the £10m lottery and Arts Council-funded regeneration of the pavilion estate secured last year.

Alongside freezing almost all on-street parking charges, bringing in new stores like John Lewis, and welcoming the international “Explore GB” tourism conference in March, this shows that we are redoubling our efforts to ensure that Brighton and Hove is always competing to be one of the UK’s top 5 tourist destinations.

Cllr Warren Morgan is the Labour leader Of Brighton and Hove Council