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Managing director says there is no conflict of interest over Chapel Arches flat

Grace Witherden and James Harrison

Grace Witherden and James Harrison

The managing director of the Royal Borough says there is no conflict of interest after she bought a Shanly Homes apartment in a key Maidenhead regeneration area – even though the company is on the shortlist to be the borough’s new joint venture partner.

Alison Alexander (left) confirmed to the Advertiser she had purchased a flat in Shanly’s Picturehouse development in Chapel Arches and is now living there.

Chapel Arches was granted planning permission in 2013 and prices range from £435k for a two-bedroom flat on the first floor, to £695k for a two-bedroom penthouse apartment.

The managing director, who currently receives a £125k salary and £15k in allowances, declared her interest at a cabinet regeneration sub committee last year.

Next month the council is set to announce its joint venture partner from a shortlist of five developers for the multi-million-pound deal, including Shanly Homes Limited.

The chosen company will help the council develop key regeneration sites including York Road, West Street, Reform Road and Saint Cloud Way. Ms Alexander said: “I can confirm I have bought an apartment at The Picturehouse and I am really pleased to be living in the vibrant borough that I work in.

“The purchase took place with no discount and I do not believe purchasing a property in the borough that I work in is a conflict of interest.

“As noted at the cabinet regeneration sub-committee meeting in October 2016, I confirmed publicly I was in the process of purchasing this property.

“The sale is now completed and I am living there.”

The Joint Venture procurement process is run by property consultants GL Hearn and Gowlings and a recommendation about which developer to pick is set to be voted on by the full council in part two of its meeting tonight (Thursday).

Cllr Simon Dudley (Con, Riverside) leader of the council said: “Alison Alexander will declare an interest in such matters and excuse herself from any cabinet regeneration sub committee, cabinet or council decisions relating to the Shanly Group or Maidenhead Waterways (given the Picturehouse is adjacent to York Stream).

“I don’t own a property there and wouldn’t buy one because of a perceived conflict of interest, irrespective of whether or not I believed I had one.”

Panel vice chairman Cllr Jack Rankin (Con, Castle Without) said: “Officers with a conflict of interest declare any interest they may have and if that interest is pecuniary in nature they leave the room through discussion and voting on any item.

“When Chapel Arches has been discussed Alison has always declared that interest and took no part in the discussion. Indeed as the lead member responsible for many of the relevant papers, I have seen Alison decline to comment on draft papers declaring her interest despite as managing director being a mandatory consultee.”

The Advertiser asked the council if this meant she was unable to fulfil her ‘mandatory consultee’ role.

A spokesman said it was standard practice to send officers reports for information and this was described as being a ‘mandatory consultee’.

“This aids the governance process by ensuring information is corrected if necessary before a report is put before councillors. Only then are decisions made by the members of the committee or panel.”

They added: “Alison Alexander’s home was purchased on the open market in the same way that anyone else would have done. She has not, and cannot, have any influence on the appointment of a joint venture partner as she is not a member and therefore is not involved in the decision making process.”

The Joint Venture partner is set to be announced on Tuesday, April 18.

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  • floboo

    14:02, 30 March 2017

    You couldn't make it up! If the MD so keen to live in the Borough, why take so long to purchase and why a spanking new apartment that's part of the regeneration? Can't believe how shoddily the MD and Leader behave. No respect for residents (using the tag line 'residents first's doesn't cut it, actions speak louder than words) or staff. Patronising, distainful,contemptible behaviour

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