Should the public be allowed to eat at £150,000 taxpayer funded council cafe?

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TAXPAYERS in Aylesbury are set to shell out £150,000 for a new cafe at the district council’s new headquarters, prompting critics to brand it a ‘shambles’.

And politicians have clashed over whether members of the public should be allowed to come into the Gatehouse Road offices solely to use the cafe.

Last week bosses at Aylesbury Vale District Council heard that despite efforts to find someone to run the cafe, no firms had put in bids, mainly citing financial viability.

The council now faces having to fit out the kitchen at its own expense, ahead of the new Gatehouse Road building opening next month.

Critics say leaders have been left with ‘egg on their face’, after cabinet members agreed to use £150,000 from the council’s reserves to design and fit the cafe.

Councillor Chris Adams, UKIP, said: “It’s a shambles, they’ve all been left with egg on their face.

“It should have been sorted out many, many months ago.

“They should know why people aren’t taking this off them – how many businesses are going to be able to afford £150,000 for catering equipment when people are cutting back?

“It’s as though it hasn’t been planned.”

The council says it plans to pay for the cafe to be fitted before trying to negotiate a contract, which ‘could aim’ to recover the costs.

The cafe will not be subsidised.

On Tuesday Councillor Sue Polhill, Conservative, voiced concerns about opening the cafe for the public to come in, and after the meeting said: “I think we should be mindful of the little cafes and restaurants in the town, we should be encouraging local people to go there.

“It’s not a social meeting venue, it should be ancillary to council work and meetings.”

But fellow cabinet member Phil Yerby said: “If anyone wants to come in for a coffee and talk to a councillor or member of the council, that’s great.”

And Councillor Peter Cooper, independent, disagreed with Mrs Polhill.

He said: “I think she’s completely wrong, we really need to be encouraging people to come in.”