In many ways Brighton is a model seaside resort defining much of what the coastal economy is all about. But, suggests Ken Scott, something went a bit wrong with its i-360 tower venture on the seafront.
Brighton and Hove Council has a dilemma on its hands.It backed the British Airways i-360 observation tower and on a clear day, some say, you can see France. Two years on and the only view from 162 metres high is a possible £1.3 million debt.
The observation tower was a fascinating project, expensive but daring.And it took commercial prisoners as well, the Brighton Eye was dismantled because of its threat to the pull of the i-360.And Brighton is now with- out one and the other has barely enough funds for lift-off.
That’s probably a harsh assessment;the BA tower has an allure and good prospects,but the questions remain: are the right people running it and should the council have backed it so handsomely?
The i-360 has hit troubled times. And there is the inevitable fall-out of failed payments and possible losses. Which means this is a venture that needs a better commercial plan. And not surprisingly Luke Johnson is on the sidelines offering his services. But that’s another story that may well unfold in the coming months.
The issue for the moment is local councils and their sorties in the commercial enterprise arena. Brighton council are effectively bailing out the i-360 now things have gone wrong; Luke Johnson has to bail out Brighton Pier when things go wrong.
And somehow that just doesn’t sound right.