NO decision has been made over whether to bring Birchwood Park onshore by the council – which has been accused of ‘taking steps’ to avoid paying tax.

The Labour-run authority controversially bought the business site offshore, which allows it to benefit from lower taxes, for £211 million in September 2017.

It was purchased as an offshore asset and it is understood, if it had been onshore at the time of the deal, the council would have had to pay around £10.5 million in stamp duty.

But concerns continue to be raised over the issue, with the Labour Party reaffirming its statement on the matter.

“Public bodies responsible for setting and collecting taxes in their own right should lead by example – and we don’t condone anyone avoiding paying the right amount of tax,” said a spokesman.

“The next Labour government will close loopholes to clamp down on tax avoidance.”

Tory Warrington South parliamentary candidate Andy Carter has fired criticism at Town Hall chiefs.

He says it is ‘quite a concerning state of affairs’ when the borough council has ‘taken steps to avoid paying tax’.

“The council tells us they have relied on professional advice when purchasing Birchwood Park, so they will have known all along what they are doing, making a conscious decision to make the purchase while offshore,” he added.

“It’s bad enough having the level of debt exposure as a result of this policy but to ignore their own parties’ advice, Labour MPs, the advice of opposition councillors and the Government, and press ahead, tells you a lot about the people making these decisions.

“It’s another example of Labour politicians showing it’s one rule for the many and another for the few councillors who think the rules don’t apply to the decisions they take.”

Birchwood Park brings in revenue for the authority through rent.

Council chief executive Steven Broomhead stated it is performing ‘very well’ and that the occupancy is ‘very high’.

Leader Cllr Russ Bowden (LAB – Birchwood) says the authority has not reached a ‘conclusion’ over whether to bring it onshore or not.

He also confirmed officers continue ‘look at mechanisms’ for how the business site will be structured.

And he hit back at Conservative politician Mr Carter.

“Once again, he mixes up a few unconnected facts with some blatant fabrication in order to be the cheerleader for Tory austerity cuts and to have a pop at the council,” he said.

“Perhaps he could focus on finally telling Warrington residents what £30 million plus of cuts he would have made to services this year instead of our commercial approach?

“Or how he would replace the £5 million plus of surplus income that Birchwood Park will contribute to vital services?

“People are tired of seeing his feeble sound bites and the lack of answers, while he constantly knocks our town.”