An historic cliff lift is unlikely to be fully restored because it would cost £250,000.

Brighton and Hove City Council cannot afford anything like that sum to renovate the Madeira Lift on the seafront in Kemp Town.

Instead, councillors are being recommended at a meeting on Thursday to spend £25,000 on minor improvements.

They are also likely to explore the possibility of getting cash from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Opened in May 1890, the lift regularly breaks down, despite routine maintenance.

About £17,000 has already been spent on the structure this year.

The main problem is the unreliability of electric mechanisms, which raise the lift car.

These were installed in the Thirties, replacing the original system powered by water pressure.

All spare parts have to be specially made, putting the lift out of action for long periods.

If the £25,000 is approved, it would be drawn from the council's maintenance budget.

The money would be used to pay for a new electricity supply and parts.

The council is also proposing seafront staff check the lift is running three times a day.

It is operated by the tenants of Concorde 2 as a condition of their lease with the council.

Culture councillor Ian Duncan, who also represents King's Cliff ward, said: "Ideally we would like to completely refurbish the whole structure but that would cost about £250,000.

"We can't get an English Heritage grant as the building is only Grade II listed. A lottery grant would help but we would need somehow to come up with matching funding.

"The lift is a vital local service and I want it made more reliable."

Labour councillor Gill Mitchell said: "The report going before the culture committee on Thursday is an interesting history lesson.

"The council is seeking to attract extra funding and I fully support that.

"But I still have doubts over whether the lift is going to be properly operated.

"The lift is a vital resource for the people in this area.

"If the Victorians were able to operate it efficiently, why can't this be done in 2002?"

The Madeira Lift was opened when competition between seaside resorts was fierce. The lift was built to provide quick and easy access to the seafront.