BRIGHTON is gearing up for a summer of fun although several regular events will be held later in the year than usual as the country emerges from the third national coronavirus lockdown.
Among the events planning to go ahead at later dates are the Brighton Festival and Fringe, the Half Marathon and the Brighton Marathon.
The organisers of Pride are also preparing for a post-Covid return, although a Brighton and Hove City Council report said that they had yet to finalise their plans.
Some events have been cancelled, the council report said, including the Children’s Parade, the London to Brighton Bike Ride, the Great Escape music festival, the Triathlon and the Mini Run.
But the Ladyboys of Bangkok, Paddle Round the Pier, the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, the Ace Café Reunion and Burning the Clocks are among 70 outdoor events in prospect.
Council leader Phelim Mac Cafferty urged people to continue safe social distancing to keep infections low as the lockdown restrictions are eased.
Councillor Mac Cafferty said: “While we remain hopeful that the city can reopen safely, we are focused on being as prepared as possible to both welcome back visitors and keep people safe.”
The Green councillor told a council meeting: “Plans today include proposals to create a new multi-agency group with oversight of this, that will include the police and emergency services, the council’s seafront and parks teams, highways, Cityclean and environmental health, among others.
“They will meet weekly to plan, respond to issues and share intelligence and expertise.”
The report to councillors said: “There is a robust event planning process in place for every large-scale event.
“The council’s safety advisory group, which is a multi-agency group made up of the emergency blue light services and council officers, including public health, meets regularly to scrutinise and assess the safety of events.
“Particular focus is now upon Covid safety including the scrutiny of risk assessments by numerous agencies.
“This group make recommendations to senior council officers on whether events should proceed, based on the likely levels of risk combined with the safety preparations undertaken by organisers.
“They will also consider the local epidemiology in making recommendations.
“In addition, the council are part of a pan-Sussex resilience forum around events to ensure consistency as a region.
“The response to requests to hold events is balanced between public safety and the need for businesses to restart, reducing job losses across the city.”
Labour opposition leader Nancy Platts asked how changes to the public health situation might affect events and what monitoring or testing would be carried out.
The council’s executive director for the economy, environment and culture Nick Hibberd said: “Most of the events in the programme, particularly the performing arts events, are planned to be socially distanced events.
“Many of those promoters are experienced event promoters who are taking Covid security very seriously. It’s in their interest to do so so they are able to have events and to operate.”
The council has budgeted £1.1 million for precautionary measures to help the re-opening of Brighton and Hove to visitors although this is a fraction of the £1 billion annual income from tourism.
The biggest outlay – approved by the council’s sub-committee – is £450,000 for Covid marshals to work seven days a week in the centre of Brighton, on the seafront and at events.
But the council has also set aside £120,000 to jet-wash the busiest streets as part of a spruce up and £50,000 for temporary toilets at key locations including the seafront.
The council is expecting an influx of British visitors on “staycation” breaks, with uncertainty still affecting the overseas holiday market.
Conservative councillor Joe Miller said that more toilets were essential on the beach and hand gel should be available in more places along the seafront and in the centre of Brighton.
He said that there were long queues by the toilets outside Shelter Hall, with half of them closed because they were in a terrible state.
Councillor Miller added: “I know. I had to use them and they were really bad. The sanitation, the ability for people to wash their hands, was not there as well.”
Mr Hibberd said that more of the temporary public toilets would be placed the seafront because the area attracts more visitors.
To try to reduce the amount of rubbish left on the seafront, announcements will greet visitors arriving by train, reminding them to pick up their litter and keep the beach clean.
The council is also planning to place more bins along the seafront and in parks and open spaces and to empty bins more frequently.