THE Warrington Guardian reported last week (October 8) on Grant Thornton’s decision on the objection I lodged to the council’s 2017/8 accounts.

The auditor had sent me an 11-page letter, setting out the arguments for and against the legality of the investment in Redwood Bank, before stating ‘it was not clear’ it was illegal (by transposition, it was not clear it was legal either).

My only course of appeal would be to the High Court, but the cost is prohibitive, so the decision stands.

My main concern now is the refusal by the council to publish the auditor’s report.

This is important because I have been warned of criminal prosecution if I were to divulge any part of the auditor’s decision letter to me.

It was stated that the cost of Grant Thornton’s investigation would be ‘significant’ – I would guess it will run into tens of thousands of pounds – and this cost will ultimately be borne by Warrington’s council taxpayers.

They will surely feel understandably aggrieved if – while being required to pay for the investigation – they are denied the opportunity to read the results of it.

Fuel has now been added to the fire by the council’s statement last week in response to Richard Buttrey’s Freedom of Information request for the decision letter to be released.

They stated that ‘there is a real and significant chance’ that release of the report could prejudice the council’s own financial interests and any future financial transactions.

Given that the events described in the report took place three-and-a-half years ago, this does seem to stretch credibility.

If everything was completely in order, why is the council so worried?

As it is, the full facts surrounding the Redwood investment are laid bare in the report and should not be suppressed if the interests of local democracy are to be properly served.