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Catering faces carve-up

The loss making ICE restaurant where members can enjoy a three course meal in a 'pleasant ambience' is facing the axe.

The Carvery is facing closure because only eight members a day on average are using it for personal and business entertaining. The restaurant, which is only one third full on average, is set to be replaced by a self service brasserie which would integrate the Carvery with the neighbouring canteen known as the Buttery. The self service canteen, frequented by staff from neighbouring Institute of Mechanical Engineers and Police Complaints Authority as well as Great George Street staff, would be divided into an area serving quick snacks and sandwiches and reserved tables offering more expensive meals.

The change would considerably reduce the amount of lunching space, freeing some of it up to create new function rooms for which there is said to be a strong commercial demand internally and externally.

A Council discussion stated that three quarters of Carvery customers were from ICE boards and committees which were facing cuts to their budgets for committee lunches. The proposals could enable the Technical and Engineering Division to claw back funds by providing cheaper lunches for its committees before meetings at Great George Street.

Committees rejected the option of having lunch in the Buttery because the right ambience and option to reserve a table for committee members to sit together were important. Chairman of the Structural and Building Board Scott Steedman said at the Council meeting: 'I took my committee to the Buttery last week, and it was an absolute shambles where we could not do business.'

Council members given the chance to put their views voiced broad support for the combined brasserie option, provided ICE committees could still reserve tables to have a hot meal, together and in pleasant surroundings, albeit at a reduced cost. Another option was to reduce prices and extend the range of working lunches available in the committee rooms.

Recommendations will be put forward at the next Council meeting. Carvery lunches for ICE committees would continue for the time being.

Any remodelled catering facilities could be patronised by an enlarged ICE Council Dining Society that is currently restricted to past and present members of Council. All ICE Members will be invited to join the society to be renamed the Members' Dining Society.

Dinners would be held after named lectures and ordinary meetings at the Institution. Annual subscriptions would remain at £10, but Graduates and Students chairwoman Carol Hopper warned that most of her members would be unwilling to pay £25 for a dinner.

ICE website can be accessed on www.ice.org.uk

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