A Sorry State of Affairs
By Cllr Ian Marks - Finance spokesperson
As reported on Warrington Worldwide, a bitter row developed between the Council and their Auditors, Grant Thornton, at the recent Audit and Corporate Governance Committee. Our Finance spokesperson Cllr Ian Marks says:
Unless the differences of view can be rectified very quickly, the Council will receive a strongly worded letter criticising their actions on investments. Both sides are adamant they are in the right having taken expensive legal advice from barristers. The Council's barrister says its actions are lawful but the Auditor's says they are not.
When I suggested the two barristers should talk to each other, the Auditor told me in no uncertain terms this was not possible. There has been a lack of communication by both sides yet my common sense proposal to help put this right was rejected.
Signing off the 2017/18 Accounts looks further away than ever. It doesn't help that Grant Thornton has received a good deal of criticism nationally for their work on audits and in particular on the baking and cafe chain Patisserie Valerie where they were fined £3m for a "serious lack of competence".
I have repeatedly said that Liberal Democrats support reasonable Council investments that generate income to keep vital services going. The Conservatives criticise these policies but have never told us how they would make up the shortfall.
Investing in Redwood Bank and Together Energy is too risky and not the right way of spending public money. The ongoing collapse of energy companies just compounds our worries.
A meeting of minds is needed to restore the Council's reputation and banish suspicions of wrongful behaviour.