The Council is facing major problems with its investments in Together Energy and Redwood Bank. These come on top of questions about investment in the HUT Group and the on-going failure to have the 2017/18 Accounts signed off, writes Liberal Democrat Finance Spokesperson, Cllr Ian Marks.
Liberal Democrats supported the attempt by the Council to work with Together Energy to try and find a way of preventing the company from going into administration by attracting new funding. This was a forlorn hope in the current energy market but had to be tried. On many occasions we have stated that we support the Council in most of their commercial investments to generate income to meet the shortfall caused by central government cuts.
By Cllr Bob Barr, Liberal Democrat Group Leader in Warrington Guardian
It has always been the view of the Liberal Democrat Group that investing in an energy company was too risky a move for Warrington Borough Council and we opposed it. When the investment was made, it was already clear that Councils that had made similar investments were struggling.
However, once committed, we hoped that WBC would make a success of the venture. While we were unconvinced by the cheap energy for low-income households and the job creation arguments, we believed the opportunity to trade the electricity generated by the Council's solar farms more profitably, was more persuasive.
Developers have been allowed to give private briefings to members of Warrington Borough Council's planning committee, as highlighted by a recent briefing to councillors over the massive proposed Six56 development near M6 Junction 20. Our Planning Spokesperson, Cllr Ryan Bate says:
I am writing to senior officers at the Council about these briefings. I welcome the principle, but the current process is unfair and lacks transparency. They are officer-led, but the applicants can make representations and field questions from members. I understand these briefings are only open to officers and Committee members.
Liberal Democrats have called for Councils to have flexibility over whether to hold in-person meetings, on-line meetings or hybrid ones.
Earlier in the year it was wrong to hold meetings that made decisions in person and right to hold them on-line. Then the law changed, and it was wrong to hold them on-line and only right to hold them in-person. At this week's meeting of Warrington Borough Council, Cllr Ian Marks proposed that the Leader should write to the Government asking for the law to be changed to allow flexibility.
Warrington Borough Council is caught between a rock and a hard place over what to do about its investment in Together Energy.
The Chief Executive of the company, Paul Richards, admitted in a Channel 4 News interview that it would be very difficult for energy companies to survive if prices stayed high and the cap stayed in place. So far around 25 companies have collapsed including the seventh largest, Bulb.
Warrington Liberal Democrats have appointed a new team of officers to run the local party at our recent Annual General Meeting.
Cllr Mark Browne is elected as the new Chair to take over from Cllr Ryan Bate, while Cllr Helen Speed will take over as Deputy Chair from Cllr Ian Marks. Dan Warren will be the new Secretary and Cllr Sally Chisholm is re-elected as Treasurer. Sharon Harris is the new Membership Development Officer.
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