‘Hurry up and let go of our city’s assets’

Charles Macdonald of Bidwells ENGPNL00320120215151622
Charles Macdonald of Bidwells ENGPNL00320120215151622

The multi-million pound commercial arm of the council is set to come under fire – for not actually making enough money.

Milton Keynes Development Partnership was set up 18 months ago with the ‘gift’ of the most prime city development land.

MK Council had paid the government £32 million for the land, most of which is in Central Milton Keynes.

But, despite an impressive board of directors and a chief executive on a six-figure salary the development partnership has so far failed to sign enough deals, it was claimed this week.

MKDP states it has been “very busy indeed” with many projects in the pipeline.

But businessmen have complained the partnership is too “greedy”, and is losing deals through unrealistic expectations.

“They appear to be hanging out for the last copper rather than considering the broader benefit to Milton Keynes,” claimed one.

A prominent victim of an MKDP rebuttal was MK Dons owner Pete Winkelman. After being refused permission to buy land for a training ground in Milton Keynes, he is now looking elsewhere.

This week Labour Councillor Brian White, the man who helped set up the MKDP concept, revealed he will be asking searching questions about how much money it has made.

He told the Citizen: “I am aware of expressions of concern from the business community about MKDP. Once the election is over, one of the first things the council will address is the speed of delivery by MKDP.”

Conservative Andrew Geary was leader of the council when MKDP was formed.

He said this week: “We set up MKDP at arm’s length from the council so it could manage the asset portfolio. It was designed to bring a revenue stream to the council budget.

“Thus far it has failed to deliver that.”

Each political party has a representative on MKDP’s board. Other directors include former Parks Trust chair John Duggan, former city development corporation executive John Walker and veteran city marketing expert Bob Hill.

MKDP chief executive Charles Macdonald said: “We have been very busy indeed in the relatively short time that the Milton Keynes Development Partnership has existed.

“Significant progress has been made on numerous key assets which has resulted in a pipeline of 15 transactions in active negotiation with the potential to generate c£17m.”

He gave a list of activity including four land transactions, two “significant” lettings and one self build programme. Other large projects have reached the solicitor instruction stage, he said.