Council chief sorry for disruption caused by unprecedented bin strike and has no fear of council bankruptcy


VIDEO: WARRINGTON Borough Council Chief Executive Prof. Steven Broomhead says he is “really sorry” for the disruption caused by an unprecedented bin strike” which lasted nearly three months – but says lessons have been learned.

Prof. Broomhead made the apology during an annual “Christmas issue” discussing issues facing Warrington as well as the positive things going on in the town.

He denied there had been “dither and delay” from the council in resolving the bin strike, saying it was the Unite Union who had dithered and delayed by not attending internal meetings at the council during a “war of words.”

He confirmed there would be no refunds to council taxpayers, but there would be two green bin collections in the new year and next year’s pricing would reflect this year’s issues.

Meanwhile, he said the council “debt” of £1.8b was “all headlines” describing it as borrowing against assets, providing a return of £22m and challenging anyone to show him a better way of dealing with the ongoing funding crisis

He said a letter from the Government minister expressing “serious concerns over the level of council debt” was at complete odds with the contents of a report investigating the council’s investments. When asked if there was likely to be “Government intervention,” he said he didn’t know. But he said he had no fear of the council becoming bankrupt.

When talking about the Local Plan he described those opposing development of the Green Belt as “NIMBYs” who hadn’t got their own way.

Prof. Broomhead went on to talk about the positive things going on in Warrington, where the town centre regeneration continues, record footfall figures and new operators in Time square.
There was continued excellent performance of local schools/education providers – with another very positive set of exam results again this year, with Warrington continuing to have very strong educational performance
There was also a thriving business/ employment sector and partnership working and a very successful annual business conference.
There was also a commitment to insourcing LiveWire services at a cost of more than £5m. The only other alternative would have been to close services.

No refunds following bin strike action – but two green bin collections scheduled in January


About Author

Experienced journalist for more than 40 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with three in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Chair of Warrington Healthwatch Director Warrington Chamber of Commerce Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.


  1. I note no mention of Together Energy, the councils credit rating downgrade or the Birmingham shopping centre issues. Everything rosy nothing to see here.

    • The near £10m loss in Birmingham is discussed – I’m sure you must appreciate there is a limit on how many issues can be discussed in half an hour – Together Energy is still on going and in the hand of the liquidators and until that is finished there isn’t any more to report on that hasn’t been asked about numerous times in the past.

  2. It’s a hollow offer to say ‘show me how to do it better’, when most of us wouldn’t be in that mess in the first place.

    Together Energy – lots of us questioned this, to be told we’re just ‘keyboard warriors’.

    Redwood Bank – both of the town’s then MPs challenged this – and were ignored.

    The truth is we scarcely know the score, because of a culture of secrecy which is wholly inappropriate for a public body.

  3. Fairly clear, that the Chief is deluded and accepts no responsibility for failure – it seems that anyone who has critism, is labelled a “whinger” no Chief… we are your customers, it really is time to move on and make way for fresh, innovative and a less cynical approach to the development of the town.

    Good interview Gary!

  4. “I think Professor Broomhead needs to take off his rose tinted spectacles,

    The borrowings, not debt comment, is simply nonsense, the Council have Debt of £1.8Bn only Thurrock has a higher debt to core spending power and Thurrock have issue a section 114 notice!

    It is troubling that the Chief executive seems not to understand the financial reality of the Council.

    To dismiss the Ministers damming letter in such a cavalier manner is consistent with a Council that has closed its ears to any views but their own echo chamber, the letter dismissed in a similar manner to concerns raised by the external auditor.

    The facts are,

    The current numbers from the Council indicate that the reserves will have fallen by £40M during 2023/24.

    Even if the Council are able to reduce cost in the next few months the usable reserves will have fallen from more than £90M to something in the region of £60M by March 2024.

    2024/25 will see even more costs loaded on the Council, including but not limited to the Zebra borrowings, Time square MRP and current borrowing refinancing these alone add more than £10 M to 2023/24 costs.

    As far as I can see the Council have no way of replenishing reserves other than the sale of property and paying down debt and generating the early repayments premia.

    Without that they are in my opinion a maximum of 24 months away from a section 114 notice and if finances deteriorate more quickly with losses from TE, Mail Box, Abundance Bonds etc it could be in the next 12 months.

    The Conservative Group have called for an immediate disposal programme of all non performing assets but especially the property.

    Perhaps they are starting that.

    But they are rapidly running out of time and their smokescreens are blowing away.

    I would like to see a genuine budget and forecast for the next three years, general fund, cash flow and balance sheet like any normal business.

    But this is the Council! They tend to focus only on the general fund costs and income.

    The last budget was in my opinion seriously flawed.

    Almost immediately they were forecasting a huge 33% plus overspend in children’s services!

    Let’s remember though the Council only produce actual numbers once a year the rest of the time they do not really know what the accurate state of the finances.

    And this is a Council with £1.8M of debt, a uniquely complex set of investments and rapidly diminishing reserves.

    So Please put away the rose tinted spectacles and be open and transparent with the residents of Warrington.

  5. Whether you call them debts or borrowings they still have to be repaid, and serviced all the while the capital remains unpaid. Why doesn’t the return on WBC’s “investments” follow the upward trend of the increases in debt/borrowing level? Does it remain more or less static at £23 million because of the servicing costs of the debt/borrowing?

  6. Deja vu – another rambling mumbling performance from the now truly pathetic “professor” … he’s an analog dinosaur in a digital world and his mates are starting to run out on him. Very soon he will be last man standing and accountable for the shambles – no doubt he will retire and slip away . His answers are the usual film flam of half truths and cons … time for him to go he’s so yesterday . The town deserves better !

  7. How dare he call those thousands of residents opposed to the Local Plan ‘just NIMBY’S’ (Not In My Back Yard). Yes it is our back yard & we live here, we oppose the plan for very legitimate reasons which have been well documented, including: we have the worst pollution levels in the country, failing road infrastructure, traffic congestion, not enough schools, doctors, dentists, loosing greenbelt, wildlife and open space. WBC can’t even balance the books so why would we trust them to plan the future of our town!

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