Anger at �30k cost of finding a name for venue

A COUNCIL was last night accused of misleading the public after it emerged a private sector consultancy firm was being paid �30,000 to come up with a name for a new venue which is running millions of pounds over budget.

Laurence Cawley

A COUNCIL was last night accused of misleading the public after it emerged a private sector consultancy firm was being paid �30,000 to come up with a name for a new venue which is running millions of pounds over budget.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council said hiring Ipswich-based Poulsen Selleck to name and market the forthcoming public venue in the former Cattle Market site in Bury St Edmunds would ensure the work was done in a “co-ordinated and professional way”.

But critics last night rounded on the council accusing it of wasting taxpayers' money. They also told how the council had originally pledged to involve the public in choosing a name for the venue, which was originally expected to cost �9million but will now cost about �17million.


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In a report to the council in 2007, the former corporate director for resources Jerry Massey said: “Councillors have stressed the importance of public involvement and are keen to involve a wide range of people in naming the venue.”

He said the council would arrange public consultation to help find a name for the venue.

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But this job has now been handed over to the council's private sector consultants.

Simon Harding, a market stallholder in Bury, said: “It was clearly stated that the residents of Bury would be asked to name the venue. Instead, thousands of pounds will be spent paying external consultants to come up with a name. Students at West Suffolk College suggested a name - The Vat - and I think that works because vats are used in brewing and sugar processing, and it is from sugar and brewing that our town's affluence largely comes.”

But a spokeswoman for the council said the public had been involved in the naming process through focus groups and consultation organised by Poulsen Selleck.

She said: “As a major new business, it is important that the vision, business plan, name and marketing are developed in a coordinated and professional way and the (council's) venue working party agreed that the process for naming the venue should be undertaken with the support of external specialists.

“Poulsen Selleck, a firm of marketing specialists, were engaged to develop a vision for the venue, (needed as the basis for the outline business plan approved in March) and to work with the venue working party to develop the name, (needed to develop the branding and marketing plans).

“The naming work began in November 2008 and has been extensive, involving a series of workshops with members, youth forum representatives and engagement with stakeholders and a focus group made up of members of the public.

“The venue working party is continuing to consider the final name and will be making a report to the council's cabinet on July 29, which will then be considered by full council on the same day.”

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