AV Broadband review: "I am concerned that we may not get to the root cause of why this project failed", says Councillor

Councillors have agreed the terms of an independent review into Aylesbury Vale Broadband Ltd (AVB), a company set up in 2015 to provide high speed fibre broadband in rural villages in Aylesbury Vale.
Councillors have agreed the terms of an independent review into Aylesbury Vale Broadband Ltd (AVB), a company set up in 2015 to provide high speed fibre broadband in rural villages in Aylesbury Vale.
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Councillors have agreed the terms of an independent review into Aylesbury Vale Broadband Ltd (AVB), a company set up in 2015 to provide high speed fibre broadband in rural villages in Aylesbury Vale.

AVB has not been short of controversy in it's brief tenure under AVDC stewardship, as many customers have complained about paying a registration fee, while not receiving the service.

Councillors have also lamented the lack of transparency from the council on the tax payer funded company.

AVDC was the majority shareholder in AVB until December 2017, when the assets were sold to Gigaclear plc for an undisclosed sum.

The review will be overseen by the Chairman of the Audit Committee, Councillor Kevin Hewson. Cllr Hewson said: “This review is being conducted independently, in accordance with the Motion passed at Full Council on 6 December 2017

"It will be undertaken by the Council’s internal audit service provider, BDO LLP. The Terms of Reference were agreed last night by the Audit Committee, and with the approval of all party leaders, and will address factors relating to the inception, governance, reporting and financing of the business.

“The review will not consider the Council’s relationship with other companies the Council owns or part-owns. However, it will identify lessons learned that can be applied to other companies.

“I anticipate that the review will be completed by the end of April, when the auditors will provide a report for consideration by the Audit Committee. The report will subsequently be published in full and be publicly available.”

Councillor Llew Monger said: "I believe that it is essential that this review is conducted in public but that does not appear to be allowed for in the Terms of Reference (TOR). I had assumed that the format of this review would be similar to that of a Commons Select Committee.

"Details of the timing, location and subject matter for each hearing session would be in the public domain in advance and members of the public would be able to attend. Without this provision I cannot see that the general public will have any confidence in the outcome of the review.

"Given that the day to day operations, decision making and internal processes of ABV are to be excluded from the review I am concerned that we may not get to the root cause of why this project failed. AVDC was a 95% shareholder and as such Council Members have a right to know exactly how that business was operating.

"Without an examination of the business itself there is a danger that the allocation of 5% of the equity to a third-party will be seen as no more than a rouse to avoid close scrutiny of the businesses activity."