Business Eye: Aylesbury deserves to be magnet for eating, leisure and specialist shops

Alex Pratt
Alex Pratt

Hot-footing it back to Blighty on Saturday from New York, the jet lag hardly had time to bite before a great friend took me to see Roger Waters of Pink Floyd perform their iconic album The Wall at Wembley Stadium.

To say it was a welcome return home would be an understatement.

The raw energy and talent on display had me literally in tears of joy and will stay with me forever.

I didn’t hit the wall.

I was instead seriously energised and buoyed by it.

One of the prophetic lyrics from the album…. Hey you, out there on the road, always doing what you’re told, can you help me? … could easily be a line drawn from a speech by new AVDC leader, Neil Blake.

Councils can’t do much on their own these days and are reliant on strong collaboration with the business community and others.

We can expect Central Govt grants to reduce until they disappear altogether so all councils need to be taking steps now to cover the loss of income and to prevent scarce funds leaking out to other places like Milton Keynes or Luton.

AVDC has already covered a £5.8m cut since 2010 (48% of grant) but each year the necessary savings and additional income will be harder to find.

There could be many local authorities around the country which won’t be able to change quickly enough and will be in serious danger of going bankrupt.

The possibility of a unitary Council for Bucks should be considered, and there is a desperate need for any unnecessary duplication to be cut out.

Our district and county councils should work pro-actively together as one team on our behalf.

Being the county town, Aylesbury deserves to be a magnet for eating, leisure and specialist shops.

To achieve this we will need a resolute local focus on the jobs-led growth strategy advocated by the Bucks Local Enterprise Partnership.

We’ve seen too much focus on housing growth and not enough success in growing jobs in our productive capacity.

So let’s not assume a change of leader at AVDC alone to someone with a recent successful business background will be enough.

We must help him push for changes in how the council works and where it places its focus.

The two operative words are probably “change” and “business”.

AVDC could become more businesslike and business focused.

It needs to take account of the business view in the mix and to listen more to what business needs.

Let’s give our new AVDC leader help and wish him well.

Together we have a chance to usher in a new era of improved collaboration, communication and engagement.