i360 Flops and Councillors Flap
With cries of “We told you so!” ringing in their ears, Green and Tory councillors have searched for ways to divert attention away from their foolish decision in 2016 to lend over £36 million of public money to a company which is now unable to make its loan repayments in full as a result of visitor numbers already being some six hundred thousand down on those predicted a few years ago by so-called expert consultants. The councillors’ absurd proposal now is to spend a further £50k on more ‘expert’ advice on how to manage the project more effectively.
In recent years the Council has spent £36k fighting a Freedom of Information request to have the business plan upon which the decision to risk the public money was based published, so the public may never know how it is planned to reimburse both the £36 million from the Public Works Loan Board and also the £4 million from the Local Enterprise Partnership (Coast to Coast Capital) which is similarly funded by the taxpayer.
It is worth comparing the visitor numbers at other attractions charging an entrance fee with those at the i360. In 2016, with similar ticket prices to the i360, the Royal Pavilion managed just three hundred and ten thousand, whilst Chartwell had only two hundred and thirty thousand visitors. If the i360 had achieved the predicted seven or eight hundred thousand visitors it would have had more than all the attractions in the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard put together. In other words, more than the eleven attractions combined, which include HMS Victory, HMS Warrior and the National Museum of the Royal Navy, to name but three of them.
Who, in their right mind, would have compared the twenty minute ‘flight’ aboard the i360 with any of these experiences? The Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth only attracted two hundred and eighty eight thousand visitors in 2010-11 and if these figures were applied to the i360, it would be a financial disaster for the Council. It is also worrying to note that there is no decommissioning plan for the tower. The life-span of the structure is just fifty years, and, unlike the West Pier, it cannot be allowed to just fall gently into the sea once it is derelict, which may happen well before fifty years have passed if the cost of maintenance and operation exceeds the revenue it generates.
There is a real risk that the i360 ‘i-sore’ will hurt our pockets as much as anything else.
Yellow Bins Blight Green Spaces
Large open rubbish bins have been placed next to the seats on the grass of Montpelier Crescent, the nearest open space for many residents of West Hill. They have also appeared in other squares in the City. The siting of these bins immediately next to the benches is a stinking reminder that Cityclean is a failing service. Whilst it must also be said that our fellow citizens are often themselves responsible for the filthy state of the streets and open spaces, the finger must be pointed at Cityclean, in this instance, for ignoring health and safety guidelines and breaching planning regulations. Open bins encourage rats, other vermin and scavenging seagulls and there is, in any case, no need for them in Montpelier Crescent when properly designed covered bins are already positioned within one minute’s walk.
It is particularly unfortunate that these unsightly bins have been dumped on the green just as the Montpelier and Clifton Hill Association has used a grant from the Co-op Community Fund to enhance the area by the introduction of hanging baskets of flowers on Vernon Terrace.