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Brighton seafront could close if repair funds are not found
Brighton's seafront could be forced to close to visitors in the future if more investment isn’t found to bring it up to scratch.
The city council faces a bill of almost £80 million to repair the seafront in Brighton, including |£65 million for the Arches, £10 million for the retaining walls and £5 million for railings, a scrutiny panel was told.
It also emerged that the council could be faced with a multimillion pound black hole after Mark Ireland, head of strategic finance and procurement at the city council, said the £78 million general grant the council currently received from the Government could fall to about £2 million by 2020.
During the city council’s panel on seafront infrastructure on Tuesday, councillors were told of the financial struggles facing the £300 million worth of seafront infrastructure.
Councils are urged to put aside 1% of the asset values to cover repair and maintenance costs equal to £3 million in Brighton and Hove’s case.
And in a stark warning, senior engineer at the council Leon Bellis warned that the current infrastructure needed serious investment if Brighton’s tourist hotspot had any hope of a future.
He said: “We have a fundamental infrastructure that is failing and we’re playing catch-up in areas.
“We have a programme to address the situation but it needs a commitment and funding.
“The £3 million would only allow us to catch up to where we should be and allow us to programme in future works. We’ll do what we can to maintain the situation with the resources we have.
“We could be in a situation where the seafront slowly closes down, which no-one wants.”
Previous estimates for the structural work to repair the entire length of the seafront have suggested the council will need between £70 million and £100 million.
“That’s a huge loss of funding and if we sit back and do nothing, that’s going to result in a massive reduction in services,” he said.
Michael Levy of Castor and Pollux art gallery, which is located in the King’s Road Arches, said: “The seafront has become very shabby and untidy. It hasn’t been painted for years and there’s no optimism down there.”
He added that poor bin collections had often made the area look like an industrial site, putting tourists off going to the beach and past the shops.
Last week it was suggested that the council could introduce a “tourist tax” for visitors, which has been introduced in other large European cities.
The next meeting will be at Alfresco in King’s Road on April 8 from 3pm to 4.30pm.
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