Bury St Edmunds: Public halls subsidy will total �580,000

PUBLIC venues in an historic Suffolk market town could be shored up by �580,000 of taxpayers’ money next year, it was revealed today.

The �18.6million Apex concert venue in Bury St Edmunds could need a hefty subsidy from St Edmundsbury Borough Council to operate in 2011/12.

The funding plea comes after the council reported a �27,000 underspend in the Apex budget for 2010/11.

A spokeswoman for the borough council said the positive balance was down to the delayed opening of the Apex, which was due to open in September last year but didn’t open its doors until October.

The council also expects a �28,000 underspend for the running of the Athenaeum in this financial year.

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The recently-restored building on Angel Hill had performed very well this year, bringing in �28,000 more than it was expected to, the spokeswoman said.

But despite the favourable outlook, Tony Doherty, the borough council’s venues director, still wants �580,000 to run both buildings next year.

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This is a �4,550 increase on this year’s budget to cover increased electricity costs.

In a report to go before the Apex Working Party, Mr Doherty said it would not be possible to give a separate figure for money to go to the Athenaeum and the Apex as they were managed by one team.

The council spokeswoman said they were unable to detail the cash needed to fund the Apex alone.

“We can’t generate costs directly to each of the two venues because of the way they share staff and services,” she said.

The Apex sold 9,286 tickets for events during the three months of its sound-check season, bringing in �96,824 – 22% of the venue’s annual target.

Income for both halls is expected to increase by �51,000 next year.

The borough also expects to receive �80,000 rent for the Corn Exchange once a tenant is found.

But David Nettleton, an Independent borough councillor for Risbygate ward in Bury, said he wanted to know how much cash was being earmarked to fund the Apex.

“I want to see a reduction in the subsidy,” he said. “I don’t see why they can’t look at both venues separately.”

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