On how they and the Labour Controlled Council have gotten this town into so much debt, and even the Official Auditors are stating the finances have been really badly managed….
Please find below the press release that the Conservative group have issued following last weeks Audit and Corporate Governance committee meeting. The Implications are that the council have not acted prudently as millions of pounds of costs are missing from the councils accounts!
“Warrington Borough Council faces massive costs impacts after the External Auditor (Grant Thornton) warns that the Council have not acted prudently in their accounting for costs arising from the debt accumulated on investment properties, finance leases and PFI.
During a difficult meeting on 23 September 2021 of the Audit and Corporate Governance Committee, one of the Council’s key scrutiny committees at which Councillors hold the financial activities of the Council to account, Grant Thornton did not pull any punches.
They reminded the Council that they were not a commercial body and that they are using public money. They said of the Council ‘this is not a commercial enterprise”, they needed to be prudent to comply with the Prudential Code, they could not pick and choose which statutory policies and guidance they decided to follow and that the Statutory Guidance on MRP (minimum revenue provision) was there to stop Councils borrowing excessively.
Responding to the question from Conservative members, “Do you consider the councils current capital and property investment strategy to be high risk?” Grant Thorntons answered ‘Yes.’
At the Audit and Corporate Governance Committee meeting the External Auditor, Grant Thornton, dropped another bombshell that the Council had been failing to properly charge costs relating to the debt arising from, investment properties, finance leases and PFI.
Following the Audit and Corporate Governance meeting, Councillor Critchley(Conservative) commented, “The Conservatives Group, have been challenging the investment decisions of the Council, the levels of debt and its MRP provisioning. Therefore, to hear from the External Auditor that the Council have potentially been under charging the cost of these investments is hugely concerning and has enormous real world implications for the Residents and the Council Tax payers of Warrington. Perhaps, finally, the Labour leadership of this Council will listen and take actions to address the financial mess that they have created for the people of Warrington.”
After questioning from Conservative members of the committee, Grant Thornton revealed that the scale of the adjustments to be potentially millions of pounds per annum, they commented that the cost adjustments could be in the region of £5 – £7 Million per annum for the four accounting years still awaiting audit sign off (2017/18 to 2020/21).The impact for the current year 2021/22 could be over £7 Million.
Grant Thornton commented that they had written to the Council again in August 2021, informing the Council that they planned to issue a Statutory Recommendation in relation to minimum revenue provision in the next few weeks subject to the Council’s response to the August letter.
Grant Thornton believed that on the basis of the information made available to them, the minimum revenue provision determined by the Council is not prudent leading to Grant Thornton’s position that additional charges were required to the accounts.
During this tough meeting for the Labour controlled Council, Grant Thornton also confirmed that amongst other issues relating to the still open 2017/18 accounts, that the council must consider possible impairments to investments in subsidiaries and associates specifically mentioning Together Energy.
Grant Thornton also confirmed that the accounts may also be subject to revisions in relation to minimum revenue provision and technical queries relating to the treatment of their Birchwood Park investment. The 2018/19 accounts, as well as being impacted by the minimum revenue provision issues, also required impairment reviews to ensure that assets represented fair value.”
To sum it up…the whole sorry episode is badly, infact appallingly managed, with this group of councillors throwing away our money on their vanity projects. Interesting to know how many got Directorships from it…..as that seems to be the only provision…..