Council budget passed with huge funding boost for Madeira Terraces

The restoration of the Madeira Terraces won a big boost in funding from councillors from all parties last night (Thursday February 27).

Madeira Terraces, Brighton
Madeira Terraces, Brighton

Brighton and Hove City Council agreed its annual budget for 2020/21, including an extra £11 million to restore the rundown stretch of seafront.

At the first vote, Conservative plans to borrow money to invest in property – and then borrow against that investment – failed to attract support from Labour and Green councillors.

Political group leaders then brokered a deal on funding for the Madeira Terraces restoration project, subject to a successful business case.

Brighton and Hove City Council discussing the budget on Thursday night

Labour council leader Nancy Platts said that she welcomed collaborative working to support what people in the city want.

She said: “I believe in the power of collaboration and listening to new ideas wherever they come from.

“This amendment represents what can be achieved by working together and I think it takes some good ideas from all sides and builds a great one.”

Green convenor Phélim Mac Cafferty welcomed the joint working approach.

He said : “Just a few weeks ago I said we should not let the Madeira Terraces go the way of the West Pier.

“On one hand we have got financial ideas from the blue team – and political will from the red team.”

Conservative group leader Steve Bell said that it was his pleasure to see the parties come together and support the Madeira Terraces.

He said: “We have come together and seen some sense of consensus. I welcome how we are able to put aside our political differences to work for the good of our city.”

Conservative councillor Joe Miller came up with the idea to borrow £40 million to invest in commercial property to generate up to £515,000 a year and then borrow £11 million on this to regenerate the Madeira Terraces.

He said: “For one fifth of my lifetime I have been unable to walk along Madeira Terraces.

“As a child I loved to go there and enjoy the Victorian heritage and what the city has to offer.

“There has been a lot of investment in the west during that time and the east has played second fiddle.”

Fifty two councillors voted for the plan with independent councillor Tony Janio abstaining.

Further changes put forward to Brighton and Hove’s Labour administration budget saw a mix of proposals approved and rejected.

Ahead of votes on proposed changes to the budget, the Labour finance lead Councillor Daniel Yates thanked both the Greens and Conservatives for their amendments to the budget.

He confirmed Labour councillors would back all the Green changes and the Conservative plans to double litter fines.

However, he rejected Conservative plans to cut trade union facility time and communication posts – when the Cityclean industrial dispute had only just been resolved and the Coronavirus had given the comms team its busiest ever spell.

Councillor Yates said: “There has been consistency about doing something about the Madeira Terraces.

“We have on our seafront £100 million of investment required, part of that is across the Madeira Terraces.

“We need to start being responsible for taking decisive action, protecting the future, doing what generations of councillors have failed to do and getting in place a solution.”

The first amendment to the budget by the Green Party asked for an increase in parking permit charges by 29p a week, or £165 a year, which would raise £338,000.

It also asked for an increase in high-emission vehicle surcharges of 50 per cent and for an extra charge for a third vehicle in a household of £80 in parking zones with a full scheme and £70 in areas with a light-touch scheme.

All low-income residents who receive council tax reductions and or universal credit would be exempt.

The money raised would be spent on filling potholes, repairing uneven pavements and improving cycling, bus, pedestrian and electric/hydrogen vehicles.

It would also be spent on the bus network, increased tree planting and support for the work of the forthcoming Climate Assembly.

The second Green amendment to the budget was to increase parking charges at London Road, Norton Road and Trafalgar Street to raise £161,000.

This money would reduce the increase to trader permits by a further £10, to £760.

It would also include £28,000 funding to develop the Bikeshare scheme and investment in electric bikes.

A further £49,000 would go towards the city-wide food policy to end food poverty, promote healthy eating and minimise food waste.

The remaining £24,000 would be used to develop a business case for “District Heat Networks”.

The third Green amendment was to spend £384,000 on 12 extra bus lane cameras to raise more income from fines.

The income would be used on public transport services, road, air quality and environmental improvements.

One-off funding of £170,000 would be split between development of a master plan for the Madeira Terraces, Black Rock and the Gasworks site, a carbon off-setting scheme and a part-time ecologist post to help with rewilding.

And £192,000 would go towards renewable energy systems, a tree officer, the sustainable and carbon reduction fund, wealth building and community orchards.

In the fourth Green amendment, increased on-street parking charges across the city were budgeted to raise £625,000.

Of this £391,000 would go towards charities and community groups and supporting school governors.

It would also help fund youth-led grants, work to prevent violence against women and girls, drop-ins for women in crisis, the disability advice centre and short breaks for carers.

A further £234,000 would reverse proposed savings in supporting adults with learning disabilities.

A final £234,000 would go towards a warmer homes scheme.

Conservative won backing for proposals to double fines for littering, spitting, urinating, graffiti, fly-posting and unauthorised flyering, as well as increased fines for dog fouling, fly-tipping and disposing of commercial waste illegally. These are expected to generate £40,000. This income would go towards tackling graffiti.