YEARS of neglect which have led to the demise of Brighton’s seafront have been exposed.

A Brighton and Hove City Council report has revealed a “poor historic maintenance regime” which resulted in major and longstanding defects being covered by plants, pigeon droppings and thick paint.

Meanwhile The Argus can exclusively reveal just a few thousand pounds of maintenance was spent in the years before its partial collapse and closure.

The revelation comes after The Argus launched its Seafront 2020 campaign earlier this year to encourage the regeneration of the Arches. 

Madeira Terrace received £7,500 in maintenance funding in 2012/13 while King’s Road Arches received £9,500 in 2011/12.

Councillors said the seafront had suffered from “completely inadequate” funding for half-a-century and the city was now paying the price.

However council officials said investment in the seafront was at an all-time high and probably more than any other UK council. 

A spokesman also said that design flaws within the terraces made it impossible to uncover the extent of the damage.

The report on the inspection made last October revealed longstanding defects were difficult to spot because of the state of the terraces.

One defect which caused part of a section to crumble away was not spotted until recently because it was covered by plants.

Thick paint, used in the past by the council damaged the structure because it was unsuitable for a marine environment and hindered inspectors.

Figures show £300,000 was spent on Madeira Terrace’s maintenance between 2009/10 and 2013/14. 
It now faces a £30 million redevelopment bill.

An intensive structural inspection costing £68,500 was paid for in 2010/11, but just £31,000 was spent the next year. 

Council officials said at the time it was not known the terraces were on the brink of collapse.

Maintenance investment along King’s Road Arches, which suffered a collapse last year, was just £35,000 in 2010/11 and £9,500 in 2011/12.

That jumped to £3 million in 2013/14 and £2.7 million in 2014/15.

Council officials said the collapse at the Fortune Of War was not caused by a structural defect but by private builders disturbing material.

Councillor Tom Druitt said: “The investment in the terraces over the last 30 to 40 years has been completely inadequate.

“Now we are in this situation of playing catch up on 50 years of neglect when the money is not there.”

Roger Hinton, Regency Society chairman, said: “I wouldn’t like to point fingers, but there were a lot of competent people at the council who were probably aware they weren’t maintaining the seafront as well as they could.”

A council spokesman said it was only after deeper investigations began in closed-off bays of Madeira Terrace two years ago that the risk it became clear there was a risk to the whole structure. 

He said that prior to 2013, it was not known that sections of King’s Road or Madeira Terraces were in a state of imminent collapse.

He added: “The council has not had, for decades, the sums it needs to maintain all its historic structures. 

“So past decisions would have been made to maintain properties as best the council could afford at the time.”