Postponed: Council puts off decision on i360 payments

The i360 (Credit: British Airways i360)
The i360 (Credit: British Airways i360)

A decision on deferring part of the i360’s loan payments to the council was postponed today (June 14).

A request by the seafront attraction for ‘flexibility on the timings’ of payments to the council was set to be discussed by the policy and resources committee.

This comes after the i360, which opened in August 2016, said it had fewer visitors than forecast in its first two years.

But council leader Daniel Yates announced at the start of this afternoon’s committee that the decision would be postponed to give officers and the i360 more time to consider the options.

Conservative councillor Tony Janio pointed out the report to the committee said the i360 will not have sufficient cash to make both the Public Loan Works Board and council payments in full on June 30 2018, so a decision would need to be made before then.

Cllr Yates said that an urgent committee meeting could be called in the near future once the options had been fully explored.

The observation tower was funded by a £36.3m loan which Brighton and Hove City Council borrowed from the Public Works Loan Board.

Every six months, the i360 pays the council £900,000 to repay the loan, as well as just over £1m a year for servicing the loan. It is the latter payment that the i360 is asking to renegotiate to £25,000 every six months in the short term until visitor numbers improve.

The i360 also borrowed £4m from the Coast to Capital LEP – which it will be attempting to renegotiate.

Julia Barfield, chair of the i360 board who designed the seafront attraction with her late husband David Marks, said the council would still make a £35m profit over the 25-year loan period, but the i360 is asking for ‘greater flexibility’ on the payment dates.

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Visitor number woes prompt i360 to ask for ‘flexibility’ over council payments