Festival and Apex directors in Bury St Edmunds told to apply for new jobs as council restructures to save £309,000

Tony Doherty, venues director, in The Apex
Tony Doherty, venues director, in The Apex
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The latest cost cutting cull at a council could see both the directors of the Apex and The Bury St Edmunds Festival lose their jobs.

Tony Doherty was named director of The £18.5 million Apex in Bury in January 2010, and also held responsibility for the Athenaeum.

Nick Wells meanwhile has been organiser of The Bury Festival for 13 years.

Both of their current jobs are set to be scrapped as part of an overhaul of leisure, culture and community services in St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath.

A spokeswoman for the two councils said as part of a restructuring process posts are being made redundant, with staff having to apply for new roles.

The move – part of the two council’s ongoing move to shared staff and services – is designed to make £309,000 of savings a year.

The restructuring will see the number of leisure and community services staff across the two councils cut from 75 to 66.

Both the role of The Apex and the festival have come into question within the past year.

There has been mounting pressure on St Edmundsbury Borough Council to reduce an annual £750,000 subsidy to The Apex.

But a meeting in July heard a catering contract with Sodexo could cut that subsidy by a third.

And last December Alex Wilson, a council director, admitted much of the failure to reduce the subsidy lay with the council and not the performance of The Apex which Mr Doherty said had both exceeded its 43,000 audience target, and achieved its target of £1 million a year income,

Mr Wilson said the failure alone to land a caterer for when The Apex first opened, had cost £80,000 in lost income, while another £50,000 was down to higher than anticpated service charges, and another £100,000 was due to a council decision to put money aside each year for maintenance costs.

The festival meanwhile was scaled down to four days for 2013. It is to return to its 10 day format next year.

The new structure across the two councils will include a public halls operations manager and an entertainment and events manager, although it is not clear how these new posts and salaries will differ from the current roles held by Mr Doherty and Mr Wells.

The St Edmundsbury posts of community development officer held by Dawn Goss, and senior health and community development officer Jane Chance are also being made redundant.

It is has not been revealed whether they have applied for new roles.

A spokeswoman for the two councils said: “St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath councils started the process of restructuring all of our services in 2010 and we are now coming closer to the end with the changes to the leisure and community teams.

“The new structure for this area sees a reduction in posts across both councils from 75 to 66 and the changes to the way these staff will work will create savings for Council Tax payers of £309,000.

“The aim is to create a team with the technical skills and commercial ability to reduce costs and increase income from our highly-valued and respected facilities across West Suffolk.”