Debt owed by the i360 to the city council has now topped £50 million, latest figures reveal.

In budget documents published yesterday by Brighton and Hove City Council, the outstanding debt of the i360 company was calculated at £50.033 million as of December 31 last year.

The figure amounts to around £181 per resident of the city.

For comparison, the 4.99 per cent increase in council tax for a Band D property will cost residents around £100 more a year.

Councillor Jacob Taylor, the council’s finance lead, said that the i360 should have made £20 million in debt repayments since 2017, but had fallen short by £15 million - roughly half of the total the council has had to make in savings.

He said: “This is one of the key Green Party legacies to the city, which we’re having to deal with.

“We’re committed to making sure that we get as much money back from the i360. At the moment, we’re working with them - they have put in new attractions which brings in income and they’re working on a business plan to bring in more over time.

“We constantly review the model - at the moment, the best option is to try and make that business work so we can get as many repayments back as quickly as possible, but it’s kept under very close review and we as a Labour council hold their feet to the fire to push them as much as possible.”

It comes as the council announces a raft of savings in order to plug a roughly £30 million funding gap in the authority’s finances, including £2.4 million of cuts to council staff.

Around 75 staff members at the council could be made redundant under the plans to restructure the council.

Trade union Unison had threatened to consider holding a ballot on industrial action if any compulsory redundancies were announced in the council’s budget.

The council borrowed £36 million from the government's Public Works Loan Board in 2014 to get the tourist attraction off the ground. The 50 million now owed includes interest.

In December, council leader Bella Sankey said that funding the i360 with taxpayers’ money was a “reckless” and “unforgivable” move.

She said: “It was Green and Conservative councillors who lumbered the council with this significant debt and this reckless use of public funds which was an unforgivable lack of judgement and which they must never be allowed to forget.”

Julia Barfield, chairwoman of Brighton i360 Ltd, said: "Repaying the loan to the council on time is always a top priority for Brighton i360. We regret that, unfortunately, we have encountered numerous challenges over the years in meeting our scheduled repayments to the council.

"Similar to numerous businesses, over the past year alone Brighton i360 has faced rising prices, unfavourable summer weather, a cost-of-living crisis, and nationwide train strikes.

"City spending and visitor numbers are also yet to fully recover from pre-pandemic levels. Despite these challenges, however, Brighton i360 has witnessed a 16% decrease in visitor attendance, surpassing the national decline of 24 per cent in visitor numbers across UK attractions. This demonstrates that we are heading in the right direction.

"We are working closely with the council by actively implementing new entertainment offerings across the site to boost revenue. In the past year, we've formulated a new vision for Brighton i360 as a modern beachside entertainment hub, introducing attractions like an interactive cricket experience and a roller rink.

"This vision is set to grow throughout 2024 with more offerings, aiming to draw both existing and new audiences and generate additional revenue to repay the council loan."