We live in strange times indeed.

If you had said to me 10 years ago that Warrington Borough Council, a Labour-run authority, would be paying £211 million to become the landlord of Birchwood Park and hold the business offshore for ‘tax efficiency’ reasons, I would have laughed at you.

But nine or 10 years of Conservative austerity has forced the council to make decisions that in the past would have been unthinkable.

Getting into the commercial property market as a landlord is one such decision.

But as council leader Cllr Russ Bowden said at a public meeting recently: “If you ask me hand on heart should councils be going around buying up property, the answer is obviously no.

“But, equally, should councils be getting properly funded by Government to do the job they are asked to do? The answer has got to be yes.”

Let’s assume for the sake of argument that Birchwood Park and the other commercial properties in the council’s portfolio are good investments that generate the income the council needs in the absence of adequate funding from central government.

What, then, do we make of the decision to invest £30 million to buy a one third share in Redwood Bank, a so-called challenger bank whose head office is in Letchworth Garden City with a regional office in Warrington.

My thanks to Guardian reader Chris Haggett for his painstaking and thorough work shifting through the details of the deal that culminated in him lodging a formal complaint about the council’s 2017-18 accounts, questioning whether the investment was legal.

In fact, the accounts still haven’t been signed off by external auditors Grant Thornton despite the deadline being July 31 last year.

In its most recent statement, a spokesman for the auditors said: “Grant Thornton remains in ongoing dialogue with Warrington Borough Council in relation to its 2017-18 accounts..”

This doesn’t fill me with a great deal of confidence about the whole Redwood Bank deal, nor does it fill me with a great deal of confidence about the council’s accounts, given the 2018-19 accounts will soon need to be published.

And if you need anything else to add to your disquiet, the founders and one of the major shareholders in Redwood Bank is David ‘Spotty’ Rowland. Just Google him and make up your own mind.

While I’m on about Redwood Bank, I came across another little vignette you may or may not find interesting.

In January 2017, a man called Jim Sullivan made the following Freedom of Information request to Warrington Borough Council:

“Please provide copies of all due diligence documentation held by the Council relating to the decision to invest in Redwood Bank. I will accept reasonable redaction of confidential data.”

The council finally replied: “I must unfortunately advise that on this occasion I am not disclosing the information you have requested, as this information is exempt from the act. Section 43(2) explains that information will be exempt if its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interest of any person.”

“I am mindful that there is a public interest in good decision-making by public bodies, in upholding standards of integrity, in ensuring justice and fair treatment for all, in securing the best use of public resources and in ensuring fair commercial competition in a mixed economy.

“However outweighing these considerations on this occasion would be the prejudice which is likely to arise from disclosing the requested information.”

It was signed by Lynton Green, from Warrington Borough Council.

But oh look, Mr Green also has another role, shareholder representative at Redwood Bank. I’ll just leave that there.