WARRINGTON Borough Council is set to spend £5.25 million on fitting solar panels on 1,500 Golden Gates Housing Trust (GGHT) properties.

But questions over a lack of data on how the scheme will eventually pay back and monitoring of its effectiveness have been raised by Conservative leader Clr Paul Kennedy.

The council’s executive board approved the project on Monday night, saying a pilot of programme which had seen 623 houses have the panels fitted was a success.

Clr Russ Bowden, executive board member for corporate resources and assignments, said: “That has been a success, it’s helping residents in some inner wards with their energy bills.

“It brings financial return back to the council but also addresses the problem in fuel poverty.

“One in five households in the borough is living in fuel poverty.”

He added the scheme will generate around £1.4 million in extra revenue for the council eventually and reduce tenants bills by an estimated £233 a year in energy bills.

“The council will receive income which will fund the scheme and it will also provide employment and training with four electrical apprentices, two tenant liaison officers and additional related job opportunities are expected,” added Clr Bowden.

But Clr Kennedy called on the council to refer the matter to the treasury management committee first before the executive board voted on it.

Speaking after the decision was made to go ahead he added: “I think they should be monitoring this and as time goes by people can find out about how it works.

“I believe we should look at things and see if has been helping the elderly and those on modest incomes.

“There isn’t much meat in the report for me to look at. Is the feed in tariff going to remain the same? Do these panels last as long as people think they are going to?

“Our residents will still have to pick up the bill for these ideas.”

He also questioned whether to make the move while GGHT are in discussions to merge with Helena Homes.

The executive board voted unanimously to approve the project.