Lib Dems Confirm Opposition to Council Investment in Energy Company
By Cllr Ian Marks - Finance spokesperson
The Liberal Democrats have always opposed Warrington Borough Council's investment in Together Energy but did not support the Tory motion for a new detailed report on the involvement in the company.
At a meeting of the Council on 1st November, the Tories failed in their bid to make public financial information on the troubled energy company.
Right from the start we have always opposed this investment. We believe that energy companies are outside the expertise of Councils and experience with them at Bristol, Nottingham and Portsmouth Councils has been bad. The Council always tells me that Together Energy is different, but we are not convinced it is a sound investment. We welcome its policy of employing disadvantaged people, but this does not mean the investment risk is worth taking.
The collapse of many national energy companies just confirms our belief. Together Energy's failure to meet deadlines on the £12m plus payment of Renewables Obligations does not bode well. Neither were we impressed by its assertion a few weeks ago that a loss was really a profit. Together Energy has issued a statement telling its customers not to worry and we sincerely hope the company survives the present crisis.
We cannot believe that any other company would be prepared to disclose all the financial information requested by the Tories and we cannot see what positive outcome would result from this disclosure. Right now, the Council's efforts should be concentrated on working with the company to help it through the crisis.
The Council should be taking swifter action on the appointment of qualified independent members on the Company's board to safeguard its interests. It should also take more care over its communications with the public over its commercial activities. In the past it has not done itself any favours with a lack of openness and transparency.