Opening hours to be extended as part of Maltings plan

OPENING hours at The Maltings should be extended so that visitors can enjoy Ely’s iconic building all year round, a review has concluded.

The review, carried out by East Cambs District Council, considered the concerns of dozens of people including the Compass Group, local organisations and those who regularly use the facility.

The review found the conference, weddings and general hire of the building had performed well - averaging at approximately 75 per cent occupancy during 2010/11 and showing further growth this year.

Customers also expressed 80 per cent satisfaction with customer service and 84 per cent satisfaction in quality of the facility.

However, a recurring concern among visitors was the dissatisfaction at the limited opening hours of the restaurant.

To tackle this, the district council is proposing to work with the Compass Group, who operate the core business of the building, to bring in a specialist catering operator to deliver an all year restaurant service at the facility.

The council has also committed to upgrade the flooring in main hall and replace the heating system.

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Cllr Richard Hobbs, chairman of the Community and Environment Committee, said: “The Maltings is a fantastic building and a key part of Ely’s heritage. Our challenge is to ensure it is used and enjoyed by future generations of our city. This was why it was so important to speak to the people who use the building in our recent review. They told us what was working and what wasn’t.

“There is no escaping the demand for a catering service throughout the whole year. We will be working to bring in a caterer who can meet the demand of visitors and residents alike.

“To fail to meet this challenge will be to let down all those who care about the building and I for one am determined the Maltings will remain the beating heart of our riverside.”

The Maltings, built in 1868 as the brewery of Ebenezer William Harlock, was renovated in 2008 and has been managed by Leiths (Compass Group) since 2009 as a restaurant, conference and entertainment facility.