An authority has apologised after allegedly launching a “political attack” on a councillor.

Kidlington East councillor Ian Middleton has been consistently critical of Cherwell Council’s acquisition of Castle Quay shopping centre in Banbury.

Recently, Cherwell District Council released a statement which said Mr Middleton “ignores or misrepresents” information relating to the shopping centre.

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This prompted Mr Middleton to send a letter of complaint to the council’s monitoring officer as he said their accusation was “defamation” and a "political attack". 

Before submitting the complaint, Mr Middleton described the council’s comments as “at best misleading and at worst potentially defamatory”.

Mr Middleton has confirmed to the Oxford Mail he has now received a personal apology from the council’s head of paid service Yvonne Rees.

He said: “I was pleased to accept Yvonne’s apology and have confirmed that, along with a published retraction. I will regard this as the end of the matter.

"My concern has only ever been to ensure that all Cherwell residents are kept fully informed about the implications of the council’s involvement in this scheme and the impacts it could have on provision of services, the level of council tax and the future financial stability of the council.”

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This apology comes after Mr Middleton said in his letter of complaint that he would like both an apology and a retraction of the council’s original statement.

Cherwell District Council’s original statement said: “Officers have been in contact with Councillor Middleton regarding Castle Quay for over a year and have been providing him with regular, detailed and transparent communications.

“We are therefore disappointed that he continues to present a narrative which ignores or misrepresents factual information that has been shared with him.

“We have made it clear that reports to executive and council which informed the decision to purchase Castle Quay were focused on town centre regeneration for the benefit of our communities.”

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Mr Middleton said that anything he has ever said about Castle Quay has always been “backed up by facts” and he pointed to his experience within the retail industry as evidence that his concerns were always well “informed”.

The council paid around £58m for the centre in 2018, after initially owning a 15 per cent share of the centre.

In the past, Mr Middleton said the financial fallout from the council buying the shopping centre had been “simply staggering” and he argued the council used the “pandemic and the cost of living” as “excuses” for why the centre had not been a success.

Cherwell District Council has been approached for comment.