‘Why can’t we see where all our money is going?’

Cllr Peter Cooper
Cllr Peter Cooper

A councillor’s repeated requests for transparency over Aylesbury Vale District Council’s joint commercial venture have fallen on deaf ears.

Cllr Peter Cooper, an independent on Aylesbury Vale District Council, brought up the issue once again at the full council meeting, saying he thinks residents should be privy to all the transactions going through Aylesbury Vale Estates.

The commercial property joint venture was first set up between AVDC and private firm the Akeman Partnership in 2009, with the idea behind the move being that AVDC handed over ownership of its portfolio of industrial units, shops and offices to Akeman while still benefiting from the income stream to support important services.

Cllr Cooper said: “It seemed like a reasonable idea at the time, but the plan involved a sort of dividend being paid to the council and so far we’ve seen nothing.

“I believe AVE were involved in the purchase of the Hale Leys shopping centre but it’s never been made clear whether that’s in the capital programme or not. I’ve asked on several occasions but have always been told that they can’t divulge their private business.

“I’ve been trying to get some clarity on this for a couple of years but found nothing. It’s a bit worrying.”

Cllr Cooper’s request was denied by the ruling Conservatives, who said that AVE wasn’t relevant to the Capital Programme as it only impacts revenue.

A spokesman from Aylesbury Vale District Council said: “The AVDC Economy Scrutiny Committee will be reviewing the activities of Aylesbury Vale Estates via a report on the Business Plan in the usual way.

“That report is currently programmed for both scrutiny and cabinet in September and will be split into two as normal to allow both discussion in public and to keep the commercially sensitive information confidential.”