Unfair Comment - A Response
By Cllr Bob Barr
Cllr Barr responds to a letter recently published in the Warrington Guardian
Gary Bebbington (WG 12.08.21) has revealed his prejudices and his political affiliation with a typically unfair attack. It is simply not true that the Liberal Democrats did not hold the Labour led Council to account over the Redwood Bank and Together Energy deals. We opposed both and have continued to criticise them. But the decisions, for good or ill, have been made and Council officers must make the best of them.
It is also notable that the Redwood Bank deal was made with a major donor and former Treasurer of the Conservative Party. If the Council and the people of Warrington are being unfairly exploited in this deal, we know who is doing the exploiting.
Together Energy is too complex and risky a venture for a Local Authority. Several other authorities have had their fingers badly burnt. But the deal is done, and officers must try to make it work..
These two investments make up a very small proportion of the Council's exposure. So why are keyboard warriors, like Gary, so obsessed with them, rather than loans to housing associations, investment in green energy and a property portfolio that is growing in value?
Liberal Democrats strongly object to the secrecy behind many of the investments and the exclusion of councillors from much of the decision making and the difficulty they have in checking the very complex confidential papers that justify them. We are continuing to campaign to increase the openness and transparency of the Council's investment programme, but this is being resisted by the Labour Leader who just wants people to trust him.
Such an approach didn't end well in Liverpool. There is no evidence that there is any similar corruption in Warrington, but without adequate scrutiny how can we know? It all gives conspiracy theorists, and those misleading the public in Warrington, ammunition to work with.