More cash for green power and The Apex

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NEARLY £300,000 extra will be spent on projects to boost income from public buildings.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s meeting on Tuesday voted to boost the budgets on brightening up The Apex’s front and for installing photovoltaic (solar) cells on public buildings. The new funds are in addition to money already set aside.

Only three councillors voted against £35,000 extra for works in The Apex foyer and frontages plus another £50,000 if the chief finance officer felt the council could get a better return on a foyer bar instead of caterers paying.

Culture and sport cabinet member Sara Mildmay-White said feedback about the year-old Apex had highlighted deficiencies in the signage and appearance of the frontage.

“I do believe it’s money we need to spend,” she said. “People say they can’t see whether the building’s open.”

A report said the fire management plan restricted foyer use but consultation with the fire officer had explored options. Plans included seating, artwork, lighting and a fixed bar instead of a planned mobile one.

But not all councillors were proud of the building. Cllr Paul Hopfensperger said: “It’s the most bland multi-purpose design I’ve ever seen. It has no style or panache attached to it.”

Cllr David Nettleton said it looked like a ‘Borneo long house’ and would send good money after bad, while Cllr Bob Cockle wanted seat cushions.

An extra £205,700 for photovoltaic roof panels will top up £410,000 approved in December. Environment portfolio holder Peter Stevens said that after tendering for the work it was realised the opportunities for generating electricity and gaining from tariffs paid for feeding surplus power into the grid were better than expected but the deadline for maximum feed-in tariff benefit is April 2012.

Seconding the recommendation, Cllr Jeremy Farthing said: “I travel extensively in Europe and they’re streets ahead of us. I think the council should throw the kitchen sink at this.”