Relationship breakdown between business alliance and council

Relations between the Penrith Business Alliance (PBA) and Penrith City Council have disintegrated, with the PBA summoned to appear before the NSW Supreme Court and a letter detailing the relationship breakdown written to the state's corruption watchdog.

Alliance chiefs last week received the summons to appear before the court later this month, as action by the council in relation to its financials commenced.

Councillors voted last year to compel the PBA to provide council with access to its financial records, after the body accounted for its expenditure every financial year up to 2013/14 but council had not received a presentation for the 2014/15 financial year.

PBA chair Paul Brennan has disputed the claim, and previously stated all financial information had been presented to the council.

Mr Brennan told the Gazette he could not comment on the issue as it was now before the court.

However, he confirmed he had written to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) last month detailing events about the relationship breakdown between the PBA and council, including that a confidential letter written by him had been distributed within council.

But a Penrith council spokesperson said in a statement on Tuesday: “Penrith City Council is not aware of any correspondence to the ICAC by Mr Brennan and has not been notified of any such correspondence.”

Council funded the PBA from 2009 until the end of June 2015, the latter receiving about $3.5 million to “achieve the city’s economic outcomes” during that time period.

The PBA accounted for the expenditure of the public money via presentations to the council’s policy review committee every financial year up to 2013/14, where it also sought endorsement for the following year’s business plan, a report to council in July last year said.

But council had “not received a presentation for the 2014/15 financial year from the PBA”, it said.

Staff recommended councillors endorse the action to compel the PBA to provide council with access to its financial records, which was carried by the council.

The PBA continued to trade without council funding, and Mr Brennan said it had never refused to meet with the council  “notwithstanding [its] legal independence”.