Bury St Edmunds: Apex’s subsidy comes under scrutiny at committee meeting

The Apex in Bury St Edmunds.

The Apex in Bury St Edmunds. - Credit: Gregg Brown

A councillor has “sounded the alarm” over the finances of a music and entertainment venue in Bury St Edmunds, which he says could cost taxpayers more than £4million in its first six years.

Independent councillor David Nettleton raised his concerns at a meeting of St Edmundsbury’s performance and audit scrutiny committee on Thursday, which was asked to note the performance report for the Apex.

However, Mr Nettleton proposed a motion to reject the report and trigger an urgent review of the project, which was not carried.

He said the report was presented as if “everything in the garden is lovely,” but he believed it to be very optimistic.

He said the total subsidy for the Apex’s first three years was about £2,230,000 and the budget for 2014/15 anticipated a reduced subsidy of £672,000. If in the following two years there was a similar reduction in the deficit, he put the cost to taxpayers over the first six years of the Apex as more than £4m.

He said: “We are putting on something here which is a cost to the taxpayer which I don’t think is sustainable in the long term.”

Independent councillor Derek Redhead said: “I would like to point out I don’t think anyone is suggesting we want to pull the plug on this. We are saying to note this as we were asked to do says we are happy with it.”

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Councillor Sarah Stamp, cabinet member for leisure, culture and heritage at the borough council, said it was “disappointing” to hear the negative comments when the Apex’s financial position was improving.

She said she was “committed” to reducing the subsidy, adding the new commercial team had only been in place for the last six months.

“The Apex brings £5m into the local economy and meets the objective of culture and wellbeing in St Edmundsbury,” she said.

A council officer said a panel met monthly to look at the Apex’s financial position after the two-year review of the venue found more focus was needed.