Brighton’s i360 ‘might end up being demolished’, city council claims

A council member says the i360 could end up being demolished if attendance doesn’t improve.

Councilor Dawn Barnett said she would be “not at all surprised” if the seafront observation tower was eventually demolished after owners announced no new sponsor would replace British Airways when a deal expires next month.

She said: “I can understand companies being a bit tired of taking it on – I think it will be left to the taxpayer to tell you the truth.

“I always thought it would end like this.”

Councilor Dawn Barnett claims the i360 could end up being demolished if its attendance doesn't improveCouncilwoman Dawn Barnett said she would “not be surprised” if the i360 were eventually demolished

Following news earlier this year that British Airways had divested itself of the i360, Cllr Barnett said the split could be the “beginning of the end” for the tower and predicted the structure would be dismantled next year.

The i360 said no new sponsor would replace British Airways from November and announced a rebranding that will see references and liveries associated with the airline removed and replaced with new designs, staff uniforms and logos.

The Brighton beach attraction has struggled to meet high visitor expectations and was forced to miss the repayment of a £36million loan from Brighton and Hove City Council amid the disruption caused by the pandemic.

Earlier this year, a new agreement was struck between the tower’s owners and the council, which would see the council conduct a “money laundering” every six months and confiscate all of the company’s remaining cash, leaving enough for operational needs.

The i360’s next loan repayment of £900,000 is due to be paid to the council in two months.

Cllr Barnett said: “The next payment is in December and we’ll see if they come up with the money they’re supposed to have.”

Councilor Dawn Barnett claims the i360 could end up being demolished if its attendance doesn't improveThe i360 has attracted nearly two million people since it opened

Readers said they weren’t surprised by the news, with some calling for the controversial landmark to be scrapped entirely.

One reader took to Twitter and said, “Just scrap the damn thing away and use the proceeds to rebuild the West Pier.”

Reg Dove said he felt sorry for the city’s taxpayers as the attraction owes the council millions after being granted a loan in 2014.

He said: “Most locals initially thought it was folly.”

In an interview with The Argus, Ian Hart, the Brighton i360’s chief operating officer, said a sponsorship agreement was “not essential” to meet loan repayment demands.

He said: “Under our five-year plan, which we have drawn up and which the Council has examined, the figures are robust and do not include any sponsorship at all.

“Although we do talk to people about sponsorship and obviously it would be a positive thing if we got it, it’s money beyond what we already have in our plan.”

A council spokesman tried to reassure residents, saying the lack of a sponsor for the attraction “in no way affects the loan repayment scheme agreed earlier this year”.

He said: “That is because the five-year business plan on which we are basing the restructuring has not accepted any sponsorship revenue.

“It is entirely up to i360 whether they choose to sponsor or not.”

The i360 said it would comment further. Brighton’s i360 ‘might end up being demolished’, city council claims

Fry Electronics Team

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