Council pays £20,000 to hire theatre which it owns

The count was held at the Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury
The count was held at the Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury

DISTRICT bosses shelled out nearly £20,000 to hold last week’s election count at the Waterside Theatre, it emerged on Tuesday.

Aylesbury Vale District Council hired the venue – which it owns and paid £47 million to build – on Friday so it could count district and referendum votes.

The Bucks Herald has learned that the fee the Ambassador Theatre Group charged for hiring the venue is a whopping £19,500.

The council claims it had no alternative, as its Oculus chamber – which opened in 2010 at a cost of £3.5 million – is not big enough to hold a major count.

But on Saturday, council offices were used to count the results for 17 parish council elections, as well as the poll for Aylebury Town Council.

A statement from deputy returning officer Les White said: “The Aylesbury Waterside Theatre was chosen as the count venue for the district council elections and the alternative vote referendum to accommodate the 136 counting staff considered necessary along with candidates, agents and guests. It cost around £19,500 to hire the venue.

“AVDC is required to pay for the district council elections but the referendum costs will be claimed back from the government.

“The Oculus does not offer sufficient space to accommodate the count for major elections and was never intended to do so.”

Earlier this year it emerged that AVDC is required to pay business rates of up to £100,000 per year for the theatre.