CONCERN is escalating over troubled council backed Together Energy, understood to be on the verge of administration, with opposition Tories seeking an urgent meeting of the council to discuss the issue along with £1.6bn council debt.
The Conservative Group on Warrington Borough Council is requesting an Extraordinary Full Council Meeting To Discuss Together Energy and the £1.6Bn Council Debt, while Warrington South MP Andy Carter has also raised concerns in the House of Commons this week.
Appleton based Tory Cllr Mark Jervis said: “This week’s widely reported troubles at Together Energy raise further serious concerns about the potential £52m exposure of Warrington Borough Council following its original £18m investment in the energy company in 2019. Since the May 2021 elections, Conservative Councillors have been increasingly questioning the Labour Council’s poor management and decision making in relation to its investment programme.
“The Conservatives (the main Opposition Group) have now commenced the process to convene an Extraordinary Meeting of the Full Council in the coming weeks well ahead of the next scheduled Full Council meeting on 28 February 2022 which is the Annual Budget meeting to agree the 2022/23 Council Budget.
“At the extraordinary meeting, the Conservative Group want to examine the Council’s approval and corporate governance processes in relation to the Together Energy investment and to understand more about the consequential potential financial exposure to Warrington’s council tax payers in advance of the upcoming Budget meeting. The Group also want to raise serious concerns about Labour’s wider Corporate Governance of the unprecedented £1.6Bn which has been borrowed by the Labour Council.
Conservative and Opposition Group Leader, Cllr. Kath Buckley, added: “We need an urgent Full Council meeting. It would be untenable to hold the 2022/23 Budget Council meeting at the end of February without the Labour leadership first being held to account for its decision making on Together Energy. Labour appear to have left Warrington’s residents with a significant financial exposure which could have real implications for next year’s budget and services. It is also important that we have the opportunity to explore ongoing shortcomings in Labour’s governance of its wider investment programme.”
Meanwhile, Mr Carter also raised the issue at the House of Commons.
He said: “Labour Councillors in Warrington ploughed £18 million of public money into Together Energy in September 2019 going against advice, because it said it wanted to ‘address the climate emergency and create new job opportunities for local people. It extended lending to the firm in late 2021, which now sits around £50 million.
“Last year, the same Labour councillors predicted the firm would have 850,000 customer accounts within three years. Today it’s on the verge of administration, 200 people risk losing their jobs and 170,000 customers will be transferred to a new supplier.
“I’ve raised the issue again in Parliament and will be meeting with Ministers next week to look at what action Government can take to protect local residents from losses incurred by this reckless investment.”
While deputy leader of the council Cllr. Cathy Mitchell, said she was unable to comment at this time, a council spokesperson said negotiations were ongoing with Together Energy and Ofgem.
— Andy Carter MP (@MrAndy_Carter) January 6, 2022