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MP questions morals of Labour council’s Birchwood Park tax avoidance

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WARRINGTON North MP Helen has questioned the morals of Labour controlled Warrington Borough Council’s purchase of Birchwood Park through an off-shore company to avoid paying around £10m in tax.

She has written to the council urging them to ‘think again’ about the way they have purchased Birchwood Park, saying it is contrary to Labour Party Policy.

Ms Jones said:“ While I recognise that councils are having to find new ways of raising money, I have reservations about this deal. I have no doubt it will raise funds in the short-term but buying property which is all in one place and paying more than the valuation does not provide sufficient hedge against future changes in markets. That, however, is a matter for the council.

“ What concerns me even more is that this deal is being done through an off-shore company to avoid around £10 million in tax. This is not illegal but it is, in my view, morally questionable. What is more, it is contrary to Labour Party policy.

“ Our policy is to clamp down on tax havens and to root out tax avoidance. As the Shadow Chancellor has said, ‘tax avoidance is a scourge on society.’

“ For a tax-collecting authority to take this course is very unwise. I understand that councillors have said that the money is better in the borough’s pocket than the government’s. What would they say to a council tax payer who says that their council tax is better kept in their pockets than given to the council?

“ None of us get to decide whether we pay our tax according to which party is in government. Paying tax is the price we pay for a civilised society. Not paying your dues sets a very bad example and I hope the council will think again and immediately activate the option which would bring the ownership into the UK. “

Warrington Borough Council has purchased Birchwood Park from Oaktree Capital Management in a deal believed to be worth over £200m.

It is one of a  number of property investments the council has started to make since experiencing government cuts of more than £90million since 2010, with the council having to save an additional £30million by 2020.

Property acquisition, led by Warrington & Co, has become a cornerstone of the council’s investment strategy as it seeks to find the revenue to protect residents from the worst of the cuts.

The council will retain the services of the business park’s existing facilities management company Patrizia.

The council declined to comment on Ms Jones’ question to “think again.”

Helen Jones MP

 

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18 Comments

  1. “ What concerns me even more is that this continues to employ her husband on a very lucrative salary at the expense of the taxpayer. This is not illegal but it is, in my view, morally questionable. What is more, it is contrary to Government legislation for newer MP’s.

    • Both offshore tax avoidance schemes and the employment of some MP family members are not currently illegal. Both are currently permitted/accepted by our politicians. You should be more concerned on the matter of offshore tax avoidance because that results in less tax to the Treasury, whereas whoever MPs employ they do (or should) pay the appropriate level of taxes.

      • I think that Togger is merely highlighting Helen’s very dubious and selective views take on morals which could lead to accusations of hypocrisy. Good to see you fighting her corner though. Once again.

        • Stating the obvious would be nearer the mark, absent your usual dose of innuendo. Both parties have “promised” to address the matter of tax avoidance for as long as I can remember, neither has the cojones to do what they promised when push comes to shove, for which we should all be concerned 😳

          • Oooh matron. That kind of innuendo?? If you are concerned about tax avoidance then drop Helen another-mail then and ask her what she intends to do on the subject? She is your MP after all. Yet again (and again) it’s Helen reverting to type and attacking the council. She’s well and truly back in comfort cave.

      • So its not illegal as an MP to employ your spouse, if only I had known I would have put it in my post. She has the bare faced hypocrisy to criticise others for morally redundant decisions yet stands by hers. Lets hope she never comes to a sudden stop, she will need surgery to remove your head from up her ass.

        • Your initial statement showed you did know it was not illegal for some MPs to still employ family members.
          The wording of your last sentence is not the way, I believe, meaningful debate should be conducted in these postings. Censure people by all means where you disagree with their views. But I draw the line at insulting them in a manner you would find objectionable were it used towards your wife, sister or mother. I have no wish to be a party to that.

  2. Let’s be honest – both Helen and the council are morally bankrupt ! Her record of involvement over the last 20 years has been “light” to say the least and as for WBC not toeing the Labour Party line – they are opportunist puppets being led by the major developers in this area … two wrongs certainly don’t make anyone right …

    • A light touch politician indeed. And one who continually uses the local media to trash talk and take sly digs at the council and other organisations. All under the guise of ‘representing’ constituents. Not so much a case of being short changed but robbed blind.

    • HMRC sold its offices to the offshore company and then rented them back, this happened during Gordon Brown’s period of holding on to the national purse strings.

      Inland Revenue’s property sold to company in tax haven | Politics | The …
      https://www.theguardian.com › Politics › Economic policy
      The Inland Revenue yesterday admitted that it sold its entire property portfolio of 600 buildings to a company based in a tax haven, despite a Treasury crackdown on tax dodges in offshore islands.

      • Indeed..

        Never mind all the politicians from _all_ of the political parties, regardless of what the party policy is, who shout about it being unfair while dodging tax in a creative manner themselves.

        Hardly leading by example!

        Personally I have no issue with it. If there is a way to not pay a lot of tax then you’d be a fool to pay it all voluntarily if the system and rules exist to allow a way round it.

        As long as you’re not evading tax (by breaking the law) then there’s no problem with avoiding it. Otherwise we’d be telling people not to use ISAs.

        The issue is over complicated tax law which creates more loop holes every time someone makes changes to try and shore it up, and the lack of enforcement.

        • Agree entirely. Dave Harnett was allowed to get away with manipulating the tax rules, so I have no issue with the man/woman in the street legally circumnavigating them to their advantage, until the rules are simplified and fairly enforced for everyone.

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