Revamp plans drawn up for venues

ONE of the region's top entertainment venues could be set to undergo a major regeneration, it has emerged.But a senior council figure insisted there was "nothing sinister" in its plans for Ipswich's Corn Exchange, which was threatened with closure last year.

ONE of the region's top entertainment venues could be set to undergo a major regeneration, it has emerged.

But a senior council figure insisted there was "nothing sinister" in its plans for Ipswich's Corn Exchange, which was threatened with closure last year.

The borough council's Conservative-Liberal Democrat administration is conducting a major review of its arts and entertainments provision.

It has pledged to keep the Corn Exchange and the town's Regent Theatre open - but there are still decisions to be made on the way forward for both.


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Judy Terry, portfolio holder for culture and leisure, said the council would consider the Corn Exchange's future later this year.

"The first thing we have been looking at is the Town Hall, but we will be looking at options for the Corn Exchange in the next few months.

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"We are already committed to saving the Corn Exchange rather than selling it off. There is nothing sinister in our plans.

"We want the Grand Hall to be retained whatever else is decided, but we will have a look at the other facilities available.

"The design inside is very dingy and 70s and it needs an enormous amount of spending to upgrade the facilities.

"We will be investing for the long-term, making significant improvements. We have one or two ideas but nothing is being discussed yet."

It has also emerged the council is proposing to save more than £70,000 on marketing and publicity in the next financial year.

The move will mean cuts in advertising some performances and events - although major shows will be publicised as normal as the costs can be recovered from the booking agent.

Mrs Terry said the council had centralised the marketing and press department, which she said would bring about savings of about £40,000 a year in print costs and £30,000 a year in advertising.

Other savings including cutting a photographer's post, reducing publication of The Angle newsletter from 11 times a year to eight and undertaking more printing contracts in-house.

Peter Gardiner, leader of the Labour group on the council, said they were waiting to see the administration's plans for the future of the Corn Exchange.

But he said the group would fight to maintain services in the town and criticised the planned cuts in advertising.

"They can't have it both ways - if they want people to use the facilities they have got to advertise them and spend money to make it happen. That could be a short-term decision," he said.

Mr Gardiner added: "We are still waiting for their culture strategy to be released and we will be interested to see the effect of the savings.

"They have decided to keep everything open and that's when the sums don't add up. But we'll fight to maintain the services the people of Ipswich are used to."

The administration's plans for the forthcoming financial year will be discussed at a full council meeting on February 21.

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