WARRINGTON Borough Council’s financial woes are now attracting national publicity.

A recent lengthy article in The Times newspaper about its troubled finances included a claim by the council that my objection to its auditor about their 2017/18 accounts was “flawed” and “contributed to the delay in those accounts”. Neither claim is true.

After a two-year investigation into my objection, auditor Grant Thornton accepted that my claim – that the multi-million-pound investment in Redwood Bank had been made in a different company to the one approved by the council – was wholly correct.

But Grant Thornton made it clear from the start that any decision on the lawfulness of this investment would rest with the High Court, not themselves.

Their report concluded with the following words: “We recommend that the council reviews its governance arrangements for authoring major investments.

“We have decided to make this recommendation because the council does not accept there was any room for doubt.

“This therefore does not provide us with confidence that this issue will not occur again”. So maybe it was the council that was flawed, not me.

The accounts for year 2017/18 were not published until nearly three years later, so it could not have been the objection that had held this up.

By this time, Cllr Cathy Mitchell had come up with a different excuse for the delay – an unidentified “national issue that has affected all English councils”.

Perhaps a more likely explanation is the one provided by Grant Thornton themselves.

Its approval of the accounts was subject to an “adverse value for money condition”, which must have resulted from extensive discussions.

An auditor’s qualification of accounts like this is a serious matter which I suspect the council would be unlikely to welcome.

The lateness of these accounts was certainly an improvement on what was to come – no accounts at all were published for the next five years.

This infringes the legal requirement (under the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015) that councils must publish their accounts by a stipulated date each year.

Lynton Green keeps referring to the annual draft accounts his people have drawn up, but these carry no legal weight – it is the final audited accounts that are required.

We know Grant Thornton have been carrying out the audit each year – so the absence of resultant accounts suggests they are refusing to sign them without the alterations they require – why can’t WBC just tell us what is going on?