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Poll: Argument over council’s subsidy of The Apex in Bury St Edmunds

PUBLISHED: 11:46 27 February 2014 | UPDATED: 11:46 27 February 2014

The Apex centre

The Apex centre

Council funding of a west Suffolk arts venue, which gets hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money every year, needs to be brought under control according to a councillor.

The ongoing subsidy of The Apex in Bury St Edmunds was criticised by St Edmundsbury borough councillor David Nettleton on Tuesday night, who felt those that use the venue should be footing the bill rather than all the area’s taxpayers.

However, Sarah Stamp, the council’s cabinet member for heritage, arts and culture, defended the subsidy, and said the borough was “punching well above its weight” with its arts and culture.

She added: “I think the subsidy for The Apex is an investment.

“It’s quite one-dimensional to look at it as ‘the user should pay’, because The Apex brings social and economic benefits to this region that you can’t actually put a value on, but it’s somewhere between £5million and £10m.

“It’s a fantastic building. It’s one area, where the arts and culture are concerned, where we don’t stand still, where we are moving forward and punching well above our weight.

“We need to stop being ashamed of it and start celebrating it a little bit more. It’s transformed the night-time economy.”

The council had planned on subsidising The Apex this year to the tune of £775,000, but is actually set to spend £742,250 due to increased revenue. The grant next year will be £672,000.

“To clear off that subsidy will take nine years (at the current rate),” said Mr Nettleton.

“We have the principle here that the user pays. We certainly apply this to car parking charges, so I don’t see why the people who go to The Apex shouldn’t pay the full cost of using the service.

“We should be looking to more quickly reduce this, down to hopefully zero. I don’t accept the argument that some functions should be subsidised and others not.”

Witham MP Priti Patel faced questions over the prospect of a possible Cabinet return this morning in her first broadcast interview since quitting over her secret meetings with senior Israeli figures last year.

This is the last week that market traders will operate from Ipswich’s Cornhill for at least a year as work to rebuild the town centre is due to start.

Drivers are being warned they could face delays as roadworks begin at one of Ipswich’s busiest junctions this morning.

The government has still not agreed a deal to end its £50m commitment for the regional fire control “white elephant” in Cambridgeshire – nearly two years after negotiations started.

A police helicopter was involved in a search which continues this morning for a motorist involved in a single-vehicle crash in Suffolk last night.

James Blunt and Plan B have joined this year’s Newmarket Nights line-up.

Police are at the scene of a crash on the A1071 near Hintlesham this evening. Updates here.

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