SENIOR officers have been told the council is ‘funding energy traders’ and will be ‘in trouble’ if an £18 million deal to invest in an energy company goes wrong.

As reported in October, the Labour-run authority is paying the money for a 50 per cent stake in Together Energy.

It will also grant a £4 million loan to the Scottish firm.

But Liberal Democrat Appleton borough councillor Brian Axcell raised the risk of the investment during the audit and corporate governance committee meeting at the Town Hall on Thursday.

He said: “It’s rather unique – there’s a very large sum of money and, as far as I can see, no assets to back it up.

“It’s not as if we’ve got property, which is the case with Birchwood Park?

“It’s really that we are funding energy traders – if they are successful good, if they are not we are in trouble.”

The council’s team responsible for risks told him the risk register for Together Energy will be monitored by the green energy project group, adding that a new group is being set up to look at ‘high-level’ risks of commercial investments.

Matthew Cumberbatch, the council’s head of legal and democratic services, as well as monitoring officer, said it was up to the committee to decide whether it wants to ‘dig a little bit deeper’ over the risk, or if they believe there are already bodies within the council that can carry out the task adequately.

Council leader Cllr Russ Bowden previously said the deal will bring ‘real benefits’ to Warrington, including tackling fuel poverty in the borough.