THE signing off of Warrington Borough Council’s accounts from 2017/18 caused by a member of the public challenging the council’s £30m investment into Redwood Bank, has been further delayed due to internal delays at auditor’s Grant Thornton.
The council had originally been hopeful of having the accounts signed off last March but then the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
Last month council leader Russ Bowden said he expected the accounts to be signed off by the end of October but now there has been a further delay.
A Warrington Borough Council spokesperson said: “We welcomed auditors, Grant Thornton, concluding their review of the public objection to the 2017/18 accounts in July, and were hopeful that they would be able to complete their audit and officially signed off the accounts by the end of October.
“Unfortunately, Grant Thornton have been experiencing further delays internally. We hope that this matter can be concluded as soon as possible so we can all concentrate our efforts on continuing to support our residents and partners through this challenging pandemic period.”
Last month Council Leader Cllr Bowden said he expected the council’s 2017/18 accounts to be signed off by the auditors by the end of the month.
During an interview with warrington-worldwide he defended 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 said at the time: “The investment in Redwood Bank involves a commercial bank and is 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.”
“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’s website
The delay comes after a member of the public challenged the council’s £30m investment in the holding company of Redwood Bank, made in October 2017. Auditors have to reply to the challenge, delaying approval of the accounts.
Meanwhile the council’s Audit and Corporate Governance Committee is having a meeting this Thursday, 19 November, where the accounts will be discussed.