CAMPAIGNERS and shop owners say they are “exasperated” with the council “dragging its feet” over repairs to Madeira Terrace.

The Victorian arches were once one of Brighton’s bustling seafront attractions but in 2016 they were sealed off after falling into disrepair.

An architectural survey earlier this year found the state of the 151 arches had deteriorated, and the council estimates the cost of restoring them would be over £30 million.

Jayne Braiden, who owns a tarot reading parlour in one of the arches, unlocked a backroom door to a cellar inside the arches to show the damage.

“This is the kind of damage we’re looking at,” she said, pointing to the ceiling.

The dank room is supported with rusting metal struts. Around them, the concrete has crumbled in large fragments. As the old metal splits and frays, the structure disintegrates.

She said: “The council had years to deal with this but they just pass the buck on to the next administration.

“It shouldn’t fall to the shop owners and residents here to get the arches restored.”

Jax Atkins, from the campaign group Save Madeira Terrace, has been raising money to refurbish the arches. She said: “We’ve tried everything. We’ve crowdfunded, I’m doing a raffle, and I’m going to regular meetings with the council. We’ve finally managed to raise enough to bring back three of them.

“We want to do a like-for-like repair with a non-rusting metal composite. But it’s not happening quickly enough. Originally, the arches weren’t painted thoroughly or looked after properly. Now we’re paying the price.

“The council is dragging its feet.

“This should have been done by now. It’s not a physical problem – it’s about willpower. I’m exasperated: it’s not complicated.”

Brighton and Hove City Council has set aside £2 million towards the cost of the restoration.

In a statement earlier this month, the council said it had “a limited budget to spend on a vast range of essential services and can’t afford to spend this amount of money on one project, in one go”.

The council has twice tried to win lottery funding for the project, but both bids failed.

It said: “We have to be realistic and look at what is actually achievable with the funding.

“In June 2019, it was agreed that £550,000 from the £2 million reserves will be spent on getting the first phase of the project under way.

“This first step is to recruit a design team who can explore options and produce detailed plans for the work needed to restore 30 arches, including the three crowdfunded arches.”