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Could tourist tax help fund Brighton and Hove's major seafront repairs?
A tourist tax has been mooted to help fund the multi-million regeneration of Brighton and Hove's seafront.
Earlier this year, The Argus reported that millions are was needed to stop the seafront's famous arches collapsing.
This week, a special meeting was held to discuss how the significant safety concerns about the seafront could best be tackled.
The city should follow in the steps of European cities including Rome and Paris, where visitors are charged a tax on hotel stays, according to the Hove Civic Society chairman.
Helmut Lusser said the tax could be put on the 7 million visitors to the city when they stay in hotels, eat in restaurants and even on attractions to help find the investment needed on the city's seafront.
Mr Lusser was speaking at the first meeting of a special committee set up by Brighton and Hove City Council to identify and discuss the key issues surrounding the rejuvenation of the area.
Mr Lusser said: “Most people living in the city have no idea how bad local government finances are.
“There are very many people in the city who could not afford voluntary contributions but equally there are lots of people who could.
“Quite often local authorities can bring about a holiday tax.
“For every one night someone stays in the city the individual pays a price, equivalent to a pound and that is used to invest on the infrastructure on the seafront.”
He added: “We're going to need an awful lot of imagination to overcome what is a disastrous financial situation from developing.”
Labour's Gill Mitchell, who chaired the meeting on Tuesday, said Mr Lusser's suggestion was interesting.
She said: “We're in a very early stage with this committee and one of the good things is we can think outside the box.
“A lot of people feel very passionately about the heritage structures on the seafront and that was made clear.”
Councillor Geoffrey Bowden, chairman of the economic development and culture committee at the council, said that the i360 was going to prove a major driver for new development following years of “piecemeal” developments.
He told the panel: “The seafront is a driver for the visitor economy but also for the people living here. We need a reality check on what we might expect.”
Coun Mitchell suggested income generated by seafront businesses should be ring-fenced by the council and put back in to that area.
Initial estimates were that the repairs could cost as much as £100m - but yesterday's meeting was given a reduced estimate of £70m.
The next public meeting of the committee will take place on March 25. A first draft report from the committee is expecting to be presented to the full council by July.
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