Bury St Edmunds: Panel will monitor savings at west Suffolk venue

The Apex in Bury St Edmunds

The Apex in Bury St Edmunds - Credit: Morley von Sternberg

THE performance of a heavily subsidised west Suffolk venue will be monitored by a specially selected panel.

Next week St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s cabinet will be asked to approve plans to appoint a panel of up to seven councillors and three co-opted members to oversee a savings programme at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds.

The move is one of the proposals recommended in an annual review of the venue, with a report stating that the panel will “closely monitor the performance of The Apex in order to guide its management team on future programming and letting strategy.”

Members of panel, who will meet at least four times a year, will also consider The Apex’s budget, performance and planning, including its relationship with the Theatre Royal and Sodexo Prestige - who the council only recently appointed as caterers.

The venue, and in particular its £750,000 subsidy has come under repeated scrutiny by members of the public and councillors.

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David Nettleton, independent councillor for Risbygate, has previously suggested the authority could go some way to saving £2million over the next three years by slashing the venue’s subsidy and leasing it out. Speaking at a full council meeting in February, he said: “Should the council be selling tickets for an Elkie Brooks concert? I don’t think so.”

But other councillors, including council leader John Griffiths, have defended the Apex and said the issue is about value, not cost.

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Julia Wakeham, green councillor for Risbygate and panel member, added: “It is not a subsidy it is an investment, it increases people’s enjoyment of life.”

She added that the venue also had other benefits, in that it attracted people into Bury.

Resources portfolio holder Dave Ray said that savings of about £30,000 would be made on the Apex next year.

According to the council report, the performance panel will also monitor The Apex’s artistic programme, which will include the Bury St Edmunds Festival, building costs and how various elements of trading activity are being coordinated and promoted by the council and other partners.

The panel will be chaired by Sara Mildmay-White, portfolio holder for culture and sport.

Mrs Mildmay-White was yesterday unavailable for comment.

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