Aylesbury Vale District Council "Welcome review into Aylesbury Vale Broadband project"

Janet Blake, cabinet member for commercialisation and business transformation
Janet Blake, cabinet member for commercialisation and business transformation

Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC) is refusing to disclose details about the controversial Aylesbury Vale Broadband (AVB) project because they say the information is commercially sensitive

. The Bucks Herald put in several Freedom Of Information requests about the broadband service. The results revealed up £1.25 million in taxpayers money has been invested in the company since AVB’s conception.

AVDC however, refused to answer several questions, including: Is AVB hitting financial targets and where is the location of the AVB’s Data Centre? Some opponents of the scheme have suggested that the data centre is in former boss Andrew Mill’s garage. Reasonably, this had led to questions about the future of the service if he is no longer involved with the company.

Janet Blake, cabinet member for commercialisation and business transformation had this to say: “We are extremely proud of the success AVB has achieved in delivering high-speed broadband to rural villages in the Vale that otherwise had no realistic likelihood of being connected by other providers.

“We fully acknowledge that some customers have experienced problems and that demand for this superfast broadband service is now beyond the scope of AVB.

“It is for this reason that we are looking into how the company’s good work can be continued and best developed – we are hoping to announce some news on that front very soon.

“It’s impossible to give an absolute value on return but, based on government figures, the economic benefit to residents and businesses could be more than £30 million by 2024 – a significant return on the £1.5 million we invested in high-speed broadband, which also included the Connected Counties project.

“We welcome a review into AVB – post implementation practices are good business practice and will identify lessons that can be used in the future.
“The Audit Committee will now look into the operation of AVB and will report back in four months.”

Cllr Llew Monger who has raised concerns about the lack of scrutiny throughout the project, said: “Cllr Mrs Blake’s assertion is farcical and not worthy of further comment.
“The Audit Committee of AVDC should have been investigating the affairs of AVB at least six months ago.

“There were clearly people at AVDC who knew there was a serious problem with AVB but it was kept off the committee’s agenda.

“Even if AVB is sold, and the total investment recovered, it will still be necessary to investigate the serious management failings which have occurred. However, unless all of the correspondence and financial papers are released and the committee are prepared to hold several hearings to interview witnesses I have serious doubts as to whether we ever will get to the whole truth about this sorry affair.”

Last week, Anders Christensen, claimed that AVB has “run out of money … only connected around a third of the people who gave deposits to get the service [and] didn’t hit any of the targets in the pilot phase that warranted the extra £1.3m being invested in it.”

What has been your experiences of AVB? Get in touch: editorial@bucksherald.co.uk