WARRINGTON Borough Council Leader Cllr Russ Bowden says he expects the council’s 2017/18 accounts, delayed by a controversial £30m investment in Redwood Bank, to be signed off by auditors by the end of the month.
He also questioned the motives of those who were continuing to object saying they were moving into “mischievous territory” which had already cost the public purse a six-figure sum.
Defending the council’s decision to invest in a holding company Redwood Financial Partners Ltd (“RFPL”) he said the council expected to get the due returns they had expected and had been given legal advice, that the most robust way to secure a return was to invest in the holding company.
He also defended the council’s investments which had “held up very well” despite the current impact of COVID-19 on the economy, singling out Birchwood Park as a strong performer.
The council’s investments had brought in £20m to help fund council services.
“All investments are holding up well and they are pretty much providing the level of income we expected.
“The investment in Redwood Bank involves a commercial bank and a difficult proposition for people to get their heads around.
“We always have made it clear our policy to invest was to provide much-needed investment for businesses in the Warrington area and wider region.
“We bought shares but don’t have any dealings in the day to day runnings and we expect to get the due returns we expected.”
Cllr Bowden added that the council’s auditors Grant Thornton had said they would be looking to get the accounts signed off by the end of the month, which would in turn resolve the objection to the 2018-19 accounts.
“It has never been a case of the council not signing off the accounts which are legally published and completed and available for inspection on the council website.
“People have a right to object but it causes a significant increase in costs – a six-figure sum. I am now starting to question people’s motives for objecting and can they justify the objections which are now running into mischievous territory? It is time to stop the sport now of objecting!”
He added: It is a complex investment but fortunately the Bank of England doesn’t just let anyone set up a bank. I expect it to be a very strong investment.”
Cllr Bowden was talking about the council’s investments after announcing a pause of the Local Plan. (see below)