Row over politicians' comfy seats

A COUNCIL working party dubbed the “comfy chair committee” has been criticised after taking three meetings to decide on seating specifications for a new public venue in Suffolk.

Laurence Cawley

A COUNCIL working party dubbed the “comfy chair committee” has been criticised after taking three meetings to decide on seating specifications for a new public venue in Suffolk.

Thousands of pounds will be spent on new seating at The Apex building in Bury St Edmunds, which opens this year at a cost of �17million - almost double the original �9million budget.

Yesterday it emerged the seating issue had not been decided in one fell swoop but spread over a number of different meetings of a dedicated working party.


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Reg Hartles, of Protest Against Council Tax in Suffolk, said he appreciated a comfortable seat as much as the next person, but questioned the number of meetings needed to make the decision.

He claimed: “This is typical bureaucracy where values are topsy-turvy.”

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But St Edmundsbury Borough Council last night defended the time it has taken, claiming The Apex was a “high specification building” and time must be spent on getting the detail right.

During meetings of the Public Venue (The Apex) Working Party, which have not been open to the public, committee members have tried out different seats to find those most comfortable.

Working party member David Nettleton referred to the panel as “the comfy chair committee”.

He said: “This is our third go at this. Our first meeting was about the downstairs seats. We agreed those and they are comfortable.

“There were a number of us looking at them, we were of all shapes and sizes. Then we looked at the stairs on the balcony, which were tip up seats. Some of us did not like those ones. Now we are arguing about balustrades.

“I've usually got a view about everything - but I did not have a view about balustrades. I have now - I'm very pro-balustrade.

“We have been doing the job properly and looking at all the options. It is true what they say about local government - the smaller the issue, the longer the debate.

“The meeting was in the Depot and we had to be escorted there. These are meetings I will not miss because they are so fun.”

Fellow member Paul Farmer said: “The Apex Working Party, which is monitoring the whole range of development of this building, is taking the matter of seating, as everything else, very seriously.

“We want our visitors to this iconic building to have the best possible experience in the greatest comfort that can reasonably be afforded.”

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