Back To The Future

Mike Holland takes a step into the future to look back at the i360’s potential downfall

In an effort to be different I have decided to have a stab at writing history in advance this month. I am going to pretend we are in the year 2025 looking back at the previous decade.

A time way back in 2014 when the remains of the West Pier Trust were still lingering around on our seafront and we had a council who truly believed in Marks Barfield along, possibly, with Father Christmas. I imagine the decade to roll out something like this.

2015-2016 lots of noise about how marvelously the i360 tower is progressing in its construction phase both off and on site. All followed by the most interesting excuses for late delivery sometime in 2017 with an opening to great fanfare in early summer that year.

We will hear nothing else from a delighted council, a smug David Marks who just knew he could do it even without the 36.2 million we the ratepayer will have stumped up. His performance will only have been eclipsed by a very puffed up leader of the West Pier Trust, the one and only Glyn Jones.

The project will then have rattled on for another three years till about the year 2020 when it will then dawn on the council of the day that they have not received any payments to date from Marks Barfield. This will possibly have been due to the fact that nobody in the town hall had taken into account that, for the majority of the year, the tower would be operating at a loss.

Indeed, there would be days when it did not operate at all owing to the indisputable fact that we have inclement weather even in sunny Brighton. By then there will have been lots of sabre rattling from the city leaders and a sighting of David Marks in Brighton will be rarer than spotting a Unicorn on the Devils Dyke.

Glyn Jones will have emigrated and Geoffrey Theobald will if he hasn’t been stuffed and put on display in the Pavilion by denying all knowledge of ever having supported Jason KitKat in this lunatic scheme. Jason will, of course, have reverted to being a geek and living incognito as far away from our city as he feels is safe. We will have lumbered on through the sabre rattling till about 2021-2022 still not having received any meaningful repayment of loan.

Meanwhile, the amount we now owe is double the amount borrowed and we are looking at a deficit of circa 70 million pounds with no prospect of paying this back. It is about this time that some bright spark in the then administration will have come up with the whizzo idea the city should repossess and run the attraction ourselves until we can find an operator to purchase the white elephant from us or work in partnership to run it.

We are now into 2022 and successfully running the attraction at a massive annual loss as only a local authority can do with no white knight in sight to rescue our white elephant. Our ratepayers are wondering how on earth our previous politicians could possibly have been so stupid as to have thought any of this was a good idea in the first place and lamenting on how the city is ever going to get out of the mess it is in.

Even Glynn Jones has grabbed his ego and permanently legged it by this time, had plastic surgery and is living in the south of Spain. The public are asking unfair questions such as “if Merlin Entertainments who actually run the London Eye thought it was sensible to build a smaller tower in Weymouth for 3.5 million pounds why would someone who has never built and operated a tower think it is a good idea to build one on Brighton seafront for circa 46 million pounds?”

We then arrive at around 2025 having run the white elephant spectacularly unsuccessfully ourselves for three years. Our debt stands at a whopping 100 million plus and we offload the white elephant to one of the major entertainment companies who will go on to run it successfully due to the fact that they have virtually no base cost having acquired it for next to nothing.

Of course as we are now in 2025, all the then politicians of the day are denying any knowledge of events a decade earlier. Geoffrey Theobald, despite looking the same, has of course been stuffed and is on display in the Pavilion. Jason Kitkat is living in hiding and Glynn Jones is in Spain. It is us who are left with a massive debt, which is likely to be with us for many generations to come.

There is, however, still time to rewrite this projected possible history if our politicians will just have the gumption to stop and consult with us, the people of Brighton and Hove City. We are going to be the ones who suffer if this lunacy is allowed to progress further.

It’s not rocket science, there is no business case to support the scheme and there are times when even at the eleventh hour it is prudent to admit to having got it wrong. If ever there was such an occasion it is surely this one. Just as our government needs to hold a referendum on Europe then in our small way we deserve one for the i360.

This should be a simple Yes or No vote and is the only truly democratic way of dealing with this issue.