Ely Maltings To Reopen After Delay

PUBLISHED: 14:40 04 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:43 04 May 2010

THE Maltings is to re-open as a banqueting facility in March - four months after councillors assured the public it would be open for community events. Contractual negotiations were blamed for the delay by owners East Cambridgeshire District Council, wh

THE Maltings is to re-open as a "banqueting facility" in March - four months after councillors assured the public it would be open for community events.

Contractual negotiations were blamed for the delay by owners East Cambridgeshire District Council, who had to balance the needs of the community with the business acumen of their chosen catering company Compass.

The building, which was closed last spring, has cut a sorry figure on Ely riverside for months. Tourists and community groups alike suffered from having no community building in a city of almost 20,000, whilst arts events - particularly Ely Cinema - suffered from having no permanent home.

Councillors said The Maltings would be closed while "essential repairs" were made to roof of the 19th Century building, but it was an open secret that some were not happy with the way catering partner Eliance were running the facility. The building closed, and as a handful of workmen appeared on the roof, negotiations began behind closed doors to find a catering company able to turn The Maltings into an upmarket venue, turning a good profit on weddings and conferences.

Compass UK's division Leiths were chosen more than three months ago to run The Maltings, for their expertise in running corporate venues such as London Olympia, Earls Court, The Wales Millennium Centre and the café at the British Library, but protracted negotiations on the long-term lease led to

Council leader Fred Brown said: "The Maltings is a key building at the heart of Ely's Riverside and I know to have had it closed for so long has been to the detriment of our city.

However, when the building reopens its doors again in March, it is going to be great.

Everyone has their own memories of The Maltings - whether it be going to a wedding, the cinema or a dance, so it was very important to make sure that whoever was coming in to run the building made a real commitment to the community. Leiths have made it very clear that they see putting on events such as the cinema and other cultural events as key to the Maltings' success."

Cllr Brown's fellow Conservative Bill Hunt, said he was delighted The Maltings would have a fresh lease of life.

"I'm really quite excited - I'm delighted, selfishly, that the cinema is going to be up and running because we have missed it a lot. It's up to local representatives and the media to keep a watching brief - Compass are a business and of course they are there to make money, but we must keep an eye to make sure everything goes as it should do.

Cllr Hunt added that Compass is spending around £300,000 renovating the interior ready for a grand opening before Easter - and plans to renovate the adjoining cottage and open the building out onto Jubilee Gardens are also afoot.

Arts Development in East Cambridgeshire (ADeC), based at the Babylon Gallery across the road from the Maltings, will run their Ely Cinema programme from the building, and are expected to put on other one-off arts events.

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