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

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.”

6 comments

  • An investment is something that gives you a return on your money and not something that makes you a loss Sarah Stamp should be doing her job and working to eliminate the loss. If that cannot be achieved then closure of the venue has to be considered Those that use the venue should be those that pay for it. No more than a small amount of subsidy should be allowed Where is the business plan for this venue? I doubt that Linda Stamp has one and is just happy for local council tax payers to continue to pump ever increasing amount of money into this loss making venture. She should be given 3 years to turn it around of the plug should be pulled on it.

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    BobE

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • An investment is something that gives you a return on your money and not something that makes you a loss Sarah Stamp should be doing her job and working to eliminate the loss. If that cannot be achieved then closure of the venue has to be considered Those that use the venue should be those that pay for it. No more than a small amount of subsidy should be allowed Where is the business plan for this venue? I doubt that Linda Stamp has one and is just happy for local council tax payers to continue to pump ever increasing amount of money into this loss making venture. She should be given 3 years to turn it around of the plug should be pulled on it.

    Report this comment

    BobE

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • David N is opposed to any form of public subsidisation of arts or cultural events, so that would explain his comments. Are you really saying the Borough Council should stop all funding of arts and cultural bodies?! BobE, please show me an investment that gives you an immediate and disproportional return and I'll sign up. There will be a business plan in place, I'm sure if you asked, as a member of the public they'd be more than happy to share it with you. Also doesn't the article state the subsidy is being paid down at an accelerating rate? Sounds to me like you'd welcome the chance to have an informed opinion?

    Report this comment

    BuryBoy

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • Beware of starting this argument unless you want a boarded up eyesore like the Spa Pavilion in felixstowe.....

    Report this comment

    paul

    Sunday, March 2, 2014

  • This is a massive subsidy for tax payers and as BobE says an investment should give you a return not a loss. How much money are they getting off the Arts Council or lottery not a lot judging by the size of the subsidy. The user should pay for this service not the taxpayer and where is the proof that it benefits the local economy to the tune of £5m to £10m pounds is this a figure Sarah Stamp has plucked from the air to justify the loss every year. In the fairy tale world of the arts it is all very lovely to have a venue like the apex but in the current climate i am afraid that if money is being lost then something has to give. If it was privately owned the plug would have been pulled as no company can afford to lose £700000 per annum.

    Report this comment

    royg

    Friday, February 28, 2014

  • I agree with BobE that a sound business plan should be in place and that those who wish to support the venue should be the ones who put the money behind it, of course, that could, and may well be St Eds BC. To 'pull the plug' would be a terrible waste of the public money that's already been placed behind this venue.

    Report this comment

    AnitaH

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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