£500K taxpayer subsidy to Aylesbury Theatre

When you scratch the surface, it's amazing what you find. Last week I wrote about Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC). As they had some negative publicity from the local press, they prevented officers and cabinet members from speaking to local journalists. They really did shoot themselves in the foot, as more negative publicity has come their way.

One of the negative stories they complained about was the hiring of the Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury for the local election count. That cost taxpayers almost £20k! To add insult to injury, it has been revealed this week that the council is subsidising the theatre at a cost of £36,400 a month. This has got local residents' blood boiling. Whilst AVDC fights a protracted war to introduce car parking charges in Winslow, they prop-up this theatre with almost £500K of our money every year. It's not that it's popular with the locals either. The Buckinghamshire Advertiser has discovered out of 120,000 ticket sales from March to October last year, only 3547 were bought from people with a MK18 postcode.

I don't know about you, but I get very tired of listening to councils complain how hard-up they are, and then read about stories like this one. AVDC would rather risk putting people out of business in Winslow than get a better deal for taxpayers. They would rather pay over the odds to hire the already heavily taxpayer funded theatre for election night than give the grossly overtaxed motorist a break. When it comes to breaks though, unsurprisingly the council still manages to award bonuses to the chief executive and two directors. On 2009/10 the chief executive trousered an extra £11,375 and two directors got an extra £4,587.

If the council wants to find savings, perhaps it can start here? Then it can look at the cash it injects into a theatre locals don't want to visit, and perhaps it will then be able to agree to residents' wishes, and not start charging £12.50 a week for workers to park their cars in Winslow. We live in hope.

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