MORE tourists than ever before are expected in Brighton this summer and big changes are being proposed as the city prepares to welcome them.

Measures such as installing new seafront bins, providing more public toilets and introducing new street cleaning programmes could be introduced to stop the city from being overwhelmed.

With the immediate future of foreign travel uncertain and staycations the order of the day, a council report says a big influx of visitors is expected and suggests several ways the city can make sure it is ready.

The Argus: Queues for Brighton seafront toilets in the summer of 2020Queues for Brighton seafront toilets in the summer of 2020

These include the use of street cleaning programmes and additional waste collection services along the seafront and in busy parks.

An additional 70 bins have already been placed in busy areas, and extra bins and collections will be complemented with increased anti-litter messaging and the presence of enforcement officers on the seafront.

The council could also investigate providing more public toilets and recruiting additional civil enforcement officers to issue penalty charge notices for those parking illegally or irresponsibly.

The plans, detailed in a document titled Covid-19 Road Map Out Of Lockdown: Managing The City Safely and Outdoor Events Programme 2021, will go before a special policy and resources recovery sub-committee on Monday.

The report states: “As with any approach to managing the city in busy periods, there is always a risk that the city could become overwhelmed and services stretched as a result. 

The Argus: A busy Brighton beachA busy Brighton beach

“The approach outlined in this report aims to mitigate this risk as far as possible but it would not be possible to eliminate all risks of any incidents of pressure upon city services or other incidents occurring.

“Over the summer period last year, as the wave one lockdown restrictions were eased, the city experienced high levels of visitors to our beaches, parks and open spaces. 

“While there is no evidence that the large number of visitors led to transmission of the virus, the crowds on our beaches and in our parks did put pressure upon services such as street and beach cleaning and seafront management.”

However, the report recognises the important role the tourism industry has in the city and the devastating impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on Brighton businesses over the last 12 months.

It states: “As the city comes out of lockdown in accordance with the road map, it is likely that visitors will return and the city will become busy.

The Argus: Many businesses have been hit by the enforced closures and lack of visitors during the coronavirus pandemicMany businesses have been hit by the enforced closures and lack of visitors during the coronavirus pandemic

"Work is taking place with the aim of ensuring that the city is prepared for each step in the easing of the lockdown restrictions.

“Brighton and Hove is proud to be a leading visitor destination which welcomes around 12 million visitors a year. The visitor economy generates around £976 million each year and supports more than 24,000 jobs directly, with many associated services also relying on this sector. 

“The impact of Covid upon the city’s visitor economy has been significant and this last year has been tremendously challenging for operators across hospitality, transport, sports, arts, culture, events and many others.

“The aim is to welcome people back, but only when it’s safe to do so, making sure that the city provides a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.

“This summer it is anticipated that the number of people travelling to Brighton and Hove for a staycation visit could be higher than ever before because an international travel ban is currently in place.”

Brighton Pier Group chief executive Anne Ackord stressed the importance of Brighton welcoming new visitors for its businesses. 

She said: This past year has been a long and difficult road for our city and its tourism, hospitality and events businesses. 

“All the signs are that our visitors will be returning in huge numbers over the summer and this is an amazing opportunity to showcase our city to visitors who may not usually visit, preferring holidays abroad.

“It is critical that our city is ready to welcome everyone with the highest standards of presentation and an exciting calendar of events.”

However, while the report recognised the huge boost a surge in visitors could represent, it advocated a cautious approach.

The report said the city hopes to welcome back “responsible visitors” while “keeping residents and visitors safe as a priority”.

The Argus: A busy Brighton beachA busy Brighton beach

“Encouraging people to visit the city must not be at the expense of people’s health,” it says.

“The aim is to reassure our communities that a lot of planning is under way which should allow people to travel to enjoy our city, while keeping residents and visitors safe.”

This has been reinforced by council leader Phelim Mac Cafferty.

He said: "We are at a crucial moment and, as the economy begins to reopen, it will be more important than ever to act safely and prevent the spread of infection.

“Covid has not gone away, and the vaccination programme is ongoing, so it is imperative we all do everything possible to keep the number of cases down and keep the pressure off the NHS.

“We welcome responsible visitors and ask that they and residents continue the practices learned during lockdown and give space, wear face coverings and use hand sanitisers.

“Everyone is longing to enjoy the hospitality and culture our city is famous for, but we need to get the balance right, with protecting health the most important priority at every stage.”

Chief Superintendent Nick May, divisional commander for Brighton and Hove, said police would be meeting the council and partners on a weekly basis from April 1 “to manage an expected increase in visitors from Easter”.

He said: “Our number one priority is the safety of our local communities, and we are working closely with partners to ensure that the city will be reopened to residents and visitors in a safe way when restrictions allow. 

“We will continue to engage, explain and encourage people to adhere to the rules to prevent a rise in infections at this critical point in the pandemic.”

As well as looking into methods of coping with incoming visitors, the council plans also look into the feasibility of hosting events in the city as the government’s “road map” to lifting lockdown restrictions develops. They say the government’s road map will be used as the basis for permitting any events on council land this year.

As a result of the restrictions, the physical events planned for The Great Escape, London to Brighton Bike Ride, Triathlon, Big Culture Project, Land Beyond, Noughty Nineties, Incarnation, Children’s Parade, Mini Run will no longer be taking place.

The Argus: The Warren Outdoors on Brighton seafront in 2020The Warren Outdoors on Brighton seafront in 2020

However, some events will return in late May, with the road map allowing “outdoor performances” from May 17.

The Warren will come to Valley Gardens and Spiegeltent will once again sit in Old Steine, with both running from May 28 to July 11.

The Ladyboys of Bangkok will set up in St Peter’s Square from May 28 to June 27 and the Luna Cinema Beach on the seafront will welcome visitors in May and June.

The report states: “Events can contribute to a sense of community, local pride and cultural identity which can have a positive impact on the wellbeing of those involved. However, events will need to meet Covid safe requirements.”

Many more events, including Brighton Pride, are expected to follow if all legal limits on social contact are removed on June 21.

The government road map states this is the earliest date this action could be taken, allowing large events and performances to resume.
The reports states: “Brighton and Hove Pride have yet to finalise their plans for 2021.

The government’s road map is challenging for this organisation because of the long lead-in time they require to plan such a large event. 

“Announcements on the timing and nature of future stages of the road map will clarify what is possible for this year’s Pride festival.

“There is a robust event planning process in place for every large-scale event. The council’s Safety Advisory Group meets regularly to scrutinise and assess the safety of events. Particular focus is now upon Covid safety, including the scrutiny of risk assessments by numerous agencies.

This group makes recommendations to senior council officers on whether events should proceed, based on the likely levels of risk combined with the safety preparations undertaken by organisers.