THE managing director of Brighton Fringe has spoken out about the controversial remarks he made about the city two years ago.

Julian Caddy said his words, which were reported in The Argus in April 2016 and created a social media storm, may have been “misplaced” but that they were only meant as “idle suggestions late at night”.

Two years ago Mr Caddy wrote: “I personally hate the Palace Pier in its current form.

“It is a blot on the seafront that perpetuates a culture that brings Brighton down and entrenches its reputation as a cheap, out-of-date seaside destination.”

In a bizarre turn of fate, the launch of Brighton Fringe 2018 was held on the pier last week.

Speaking exclusively to The Argus two months before the start of this year’s festival, Mr Caddy was asked about this unlikely partnership.

“I’ve always had a good relationship with the pier – every time we’ve come to Brighton I’ve taken my kids there,” said the managing director, who has been living in the city full-time for the last two years.

“I’ve spent hundreds of pounds putting the two pence pieces in the slots.”

Referring to his 2016 comments, he added: “It was an unfortunate mess. I guess my words were misplaced. Then I was portrayed as being a snob. But I’m there doing it as well [visiting the pier].”

Some social media users claimed Mr Caddy had been condescending in his tone but the festival boss insisted he did not “want to gentrify Brighton”.

“It’s simply not true,” he added. “I didn’t say I wanted to get rid of what was on the pier – it was more about having variety. I don’t have an agenda to change Brighton.”

Mr Caddy added that he had written the email containing the remarks - which was sent in response to a request for comment in relation to a news story about the new ownership of the pier - late at night.

“I had just driven eight hours to Scotland and was lying in bed after dinner,” said Mr Caddy. “I probably had a couple of glasses of wine on a Friday night and I found myself writing an email.

“I didn’t explain myself very well. I wasn’t saying I hate anything.”

The managing director said it was “the most awful thing in the world to get hounded on social media” and that he eventually stopped replying to his critics online because “it’s impossible to debate with such a myriad of voices.”

“I thought, ‘who cares what I think? Who the hell am I? I run a festival’” he said. “People say lots of things in the pub they wouldn’t want to put on the internet.”

Ticket sales for Brighton Fringe 2018 are up more than 21 per cent on last year’s total at this time.

There are almost 4000 performances taking place from May 4 to June 3.

For the full interview with Julian Caddy, look out for The Argus’s Brighton Fringe preview special on May 4.