Councillors will today (Thursday, May 12) be asked to agree to new proposals that aim to get Brighton and Hove City Council's loan made to the i360 'repaid as quickly as possible while giving the business a sustainable future'.
The Policy and Resources committee, which meets at 4pm today (May 12), will be asked to agree new terms for a loan made to the i360 – which currently has an outstanding balance, including accrued interest up to 31/12/2021, of £42.871million.
The council brokered a £36 million loan for the i360 from the government’s Public Works Loan Board in 2014 – and the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) handed over a further £4 million. The council has since taken over the LEP loan – at no cost to the council – but three years of missed payments mean that the i360 now owes more than £46 million in total.
Important part of city's tourism
Despite the financial difficulties, the council added that the i360 is one of the city’s most visited paid-for attractions and said it had helped raise the profile of Brighton & Hove’s visitor offer nationally and internationally.
A spokesman said: "The attraction has been a catalyst for regeneration on the seafront and provided economic and community benefit for the city as a whole. Since its opening in 2017, it is estimated to have contributed well over £89 million to the local economy.
“The loan restructure is designed to improve the stability of the i360 so it may succeed into the future, as an employer and an important part of the city’s tourism offer”.
The principles of a loan restructure were agreed by members in December 2019, but the Covid-19 Pandemic struck before the restructure could be enacted.
Minimum monthly payments
The report being put to the committee today sets out minimum payments that would see the loans repaid over 25 years. The minimum payments, if approved, would start at £900,000 this December and £600,000 in June 2023. The amounts gradually rise over the next five years before they hit a regular December payments of £1,732,873 and an annual June payment of £1,155,249 for the remaining 20 years. But the council said there was potential for the payments to be paid sooner if the attraction performs well.
The proposed restructure means that the council would take nearly all profits that the i360 makes. The council said the restructure would ensure 'all money lent to the i360 would be repaid in full, with no money written off'. This includes previously deferred payments.
Providing the i360 can perform to levels set out in its business plan, the council said the restructure would also mean the 'i360 will remain a solvent and viable business, contributing to the city’s economy'.