Bury St Edmunds: Council bosses defend Apex funding

TWO top council chiefs have leapt to defend the funding of a multi-million-pound entertainment venue.

Their intervention came during a question and answer session with members of the business community in Bury St Edmunds.

Sara Mildmay-White, deputy leader of St Edmundsbury Borough Council, and its chief executive Geoff Rivers, were responding to a question about the �18.6million Apex in the town’s Arc shopping centre.

It came during the annual business ratepayers’ consultation meeting at the authority’s headquarters, in Western Way, from Barry Denny, managing director of Denny Brothers, the family-owned stationers.

He questioned the amount of money being pumped into the complex to maintain and run the facility funded by ratepayers.

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Back in 2007 the company had been in dispute over its business rates when the firm, which has its shop on the corner of St Andrews Street South and Kings Road, claimed major roadworks in Kings Road had hit its trade.

Denny Brothers claimed its turnover fell by about �5,000 a month for nearly two years while works were carried out in the road and on the Arc development.

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The firm applied for a reduction in its rates but St Edmundsbury council, which collects them on behalf of the Government, said it could not help.

Instead Denny Brothers was advised to seek a rate cut from the Valuation Office Agency, which sets the rates, and were given a 15% reduction.

It claimed this was not enough and sought a further reduction by lodging an appeal which ultimately led to the Lands Tribunal, in London, overturning earlier decisions and increased the reduction from 15% to 25% over a 22-month period.

Mrs Mildmay-White told Mr Denny that the Apex is a much valued community facility and a great asset for the town.

And Mr Rivers said that the amount of subsidy money for the complex over the coming year was to be approximately �30,000, which he was confident would be further reduced in the coming years.

“But what value do we put on it and what value does it give to the community?” he asked.

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