£8,700 spent on lavish ‘out of touch’ civic reception

John Cartwright
John Cartwright

AYLESBURY Vale District Council shelled out more than £6,000 on food and alcohol at a lavish reception to open its new offices.

The council says the money was an investment, with the event held to showcase its £9.5million offices to hirers.

Critics have branded the council as ‘out of touch’ after it was revealed the opening ceremony cost taxpayers £8,749.

As well as spending £6,229 on food and alcohol, the council paid £1,250 for lighting and £1,270 on musicians.

Five days later, on Wednesday last week, members of the full council were served a further £160 worth of refreshments after its annual meeting.

Tory Councillor Phil Yerby, took to social networking site Twitter to criticise the spending.

He wrote: “A formality, then followed by wine and food at your expense. Out of touch, esp after a big party last Friday.”

Mr Yerby, who did not attend the opening, said: “In my personal view, we shouldn’t be seen to be spending public money on entertaining ourselves.”

Councillor Chris Adams, who heads the UKIP group, said the two members of his party had not accepted any food or alcohol at either reception, telling the Herald: “In times of austerity, I think this is foolish.”

District council leader John Cartwright said the opening had been combined with the chairman’s reception, which recognises people for their work in the community.

He said: “The guest list was extended to reflect this and included local businesses and other potential hirers of the new facilities.

“AVDC is committed to making the conference centre a success and generating income from bookings.

“Any business running a professional conference centre would expect to invest in the marketing and promotion of its facilities.

“Friday’s event was part of our programme to do this.”

Liberal Democrat group leader Steven Lambert claimed he had been misled into attending.

He told the Herald: “I tested the invitation to see if it was the chairman’s reception and was told yes, that is all it is, nothing more.

“But it became clear on the night that Cartwright had taken this over for the celebration of his own achievements.

“There was no need for it to cost so much money.”

Two weeks ago, more than 290 completed their move from the council’s High Street offices to the new Gatehouse Road building.