A MAN fears broken benches are putting off tourists.

Derek Wright, 70, from Kemp Town, Brighton, said visitors are left without anywhere to sit because the benches close to the war memorial in Old Steine have been left in disrepair.

There were once eight of them circling the nearby fountain. Only one is still in working order – the others have been broken or removed.

Derek, who also helps to raise funds for the dilapidated Madeira Terrace arches, is concerned.

He said: “These benches are important. The Old Steine is a focal point for visitors and residents and is often used as a meeting place for coach parties.

“At the moment there is only one usable bench. There are spaces for eight benches but there are only two there now and one of those it broken.

“I’ve seen tourists coming down from up North and there’s nowhere for them to sit. They might well decide not to come back.

“With coronavirus and all the bad weather at the moment, we need to do all we can to keep the tourists here.”

Derek said he first raised the issue with Brighton and Hove City Council last year but in an email, a council officer told Derek he had “other priorities”.

Derek said: “I know the council is under great financial pressure but I don’t think there’s any excuse not to take action over something so simple. Problems like graffiti and rubbish keep going on – but this is just a one-time thing.”

Derek said because these are memorial benches, donors only pay for them to be maintained for a year. He said the council’s parks department told him the benches could not be replaced until phase three of the controversial Valley Gardens scheme was settled.

Derek said more urgent action is needed and suggested borrowing benches earmarked for use in the project. He said: “We can’t wait. We need to get some benches here before the summer season starts.”

The council did not respond to requests for a comment.