Warrington Borough Council
Whole council elected every four years
Arms of Warrington Borough Council
Type
Type
Leadership
Steve Wright,
Labour
since 1 July 2023[1]
Hans Mundry,
Labour
since 4 Dec 2023
Steven Broomhead
since June 2012[2]
Structure
Seats58 councillors[3]
Warrington Borough Council composition
Political groups
Administration (36)
  Labour (36)
Other Parties (22)
  Conservative (10)
  Liberal Democrats (8)
  Independent (4)
Length of term
4 years
Elections
Plurality-at-large
Last election
6 May 2021
Next election
2 May 2024
Meeting place
Town Hall, Sankey Street, Warrington, WA1 1UH
Website
www.warrington.gov.uk

Warrington Borough Council is the local authority of Warrington, Cheshire, England. It is a unitary authority, having the powers of a non-metropolitan county and district council combined. It provides a full range of local government services including Council Tax billing, libraries, social services, processing planning applications, waste collection and disposal, and it is a local education authority.

History

The town of Warrington was made a municipal borough in 1847, governed by a body formally called the "mayor, aldermen and burgesses of the borough of Warrington", generally known as the corporation, town council or borough council.[4] This first incarnation of the borough council replaced an earlier body of improvement commissioners which had governed the town since 1813.[5] From its creation in 1847 the borough straddled Lancashire and Cheshire, with the county boundary being the River Mersey; the town centre and most of the built-up area was on the north bank of the river in Lancashire, but the borough also included the built-up parts of Latchford on the south bank of the river in Cheshire.[4]

In 1889 boroughs which straddled county boundaries were placed entirely in the county which had the majority of the population, and so the part of the borough south of the Mersey was transferred from Cheshire to Lancashire.[6] The borough boundaries were subsequently enlarged on several occasions, notably in 1890, 1933 and 1954.[7][8]

In 1900 Warrington was made a county borough, making it independent from Lancashire County Council, whilst remaining part of Lancashire for ceremonial purposes.[9]

The borough was substantially enlarged in 1974, taking in a number of surrounding parishes from both Lancashire and Cheshire, including Lymm, which had been a separate urban district. The enlarged borough was transferred from Lancashire to Cheshire and was redesignated as a non-metropolitan district, with Cheshire County Council providing county-level services.[10] The borough regained control of county-level functions 24 years later in 1998 when it was made a unitary authority. It remains part of Cheshire for ceremonial purposes.[11][12]

Governance

As a unitary authority, Warrington Borough Council has the functions of a county council and district council combined. In its capacity as a district council it is a billing authority collecting Council Tax and business rates, it processes local planning applications, it is responsible for housing, waste collection and environmental health. In its capacity as a county council it is a local education authority, responsible for social services, libraries and waste disposal.[13] Parts of the borough are also covered by civil parishes, which form a second tier of local government for their areas.[14]

Political control

The council has been under Labour majority control since 2011.

Political control of the council since the 1974 reforms has been as follows:[15]

Non-metropolitan district

Party in control Years
Conservative 1974–1979
No overall control 1979–1983
Labour 1983–1998

Unitary authority

Party in control Years
Labour 1998–2006
No overall control 2006–2011
Labour 2011–present

Leadership

The role of Mayor of Warrington is largely ceremonial. Political leadership is instead provided by the leader of the council. The leaders since 1985 have been:[16]

Councillor Party From To
Mike Hall Labour 1985 1992
John Gartside Labour 1992 23 May 2002
Mike Hughes[17] Labour 23 May 2002 23 Feb 2004
John Joyce Labour 23 Feb 2004 22 May 2006
Ian Marks Liberal Democrats 22 May 2006 23 May 2011
Terry O'Neill[18] Labour 23 May 2011 17 Dec 2018
Russ Bowden Labour 17 Dec 2018 4 Dec 2023
Hans Mundry Labour 4 Dec 2023

Composition

Following the 2021 election and subsequent by-elections and changes of allegiance up to January 2024, the composition of the council was:

Party Councillors
Labour 36
Conservative 10
Liberal Democrats 8
Independent 4
Total 58

The next elections are due in May 2024.

Elections

See also: Warrington Borough Council elections

Since the last boundary changes in 2016 the council has comprised 58 councillors representing 22 wards, with each ward electing two or three councillors. Elections are held every four years.[19]

Premises

The council generally meets at Warrington Town Hall on Sankey Street. The building was originally built in 1750 as a large house, and was formerly called Bank Hall. It was bought by the borough council in 1870 and converted into a town hall, with its grounds becoming a public park.[20]

The council's main offices are at 1 Time Square which was completed in 2020, replacing earlier offices at New Town House on Scotland Road which have since been demolished.[21][22]

Investments

Elected members have approved a number of significant commercial investments by the local authority. In September 2016, Warrington Borough Council became one of the first local councils in the UK to buy clean-tech bonds in Swindon Solar Park through its owner, specialist investment management firm Rockfire Capital.[23]

In September 2019, the council acquired a 50% shareholding in Clydebank-based energy retailer Together Energy for £18m.[24][25] In September 2020, Bristol Energy's brand and residential accounts – 155,000 meter points – were sold by Bristol City Council to Together Energy for £14 million.[26] In August 2021, Warrington Council's total financial exposure to Together Energy was reported to be £41.2m.[27] In October 2021, Ofgem issued a provisional order to several suppliers, including Together Energy, who had not made Renewables Obligation payments; Together Energy's obligation was over £12m.[28] Following sharp increases in wholesale gas and electricity prices which began in autumn 2021,[29] Together Energy Retail Ltd announced on 18 January 2022 that it was ceasing to trade.[30][29]

Other loans and investments include almost £30 million paid in stages between 2017 and 2019 for a 33% stake in Redwood Bank, a "challenger bank" which has a Warrington office.[31] In 2021 a £202m loan facility, secured against commercial property, was provided to Matt Moulding, founder of Cheshire-based e-commerce business The Hut Group.[32][33]

In September 2021, the council confirmed that its borrowing had reached £1.7 billion, but that the current value of its investment assets were £2.173 billion.[34]

References

  1. ^ "Council minutes, 22 May 2023". Warrington Borough Council. Retrieved 16 January 2024.
  2. ^ Skentelbery, Gary (4 December 2013). "Broomhead re-appointed to top job". Warrington Worldwide. Retrieved 16 January 2024.
  3. ^ "Councillors | warrington.gov.uk". www.warrington.gov.uk.
  4. ^ a b "Warrington Improvement and Market Act 1854". legislation.gov.uk. The National Archives. Retrieved 11 January 2024.
  5. ^ "Warrington Improvement and Bridewell Act 1813". legislation.gov.uk. The National Archives. Retrieved 11 January 2024.
  6. ^ Local Government Act 1888
  7. ^ "Warrington Extension and Water Act 1890". legislation.gov.uk. The National Archives. Retrieved 11 January 2024.
  8. ^ "Warrington Extension Act 1932". legislation.gov.uk. The National Archives. Retrieved 11 January 2024.
  9. ^ "Warrington Municipal Borough / County Borough". A Vision of Britain through Time. GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 11 January 2024.
  10. ^ Local Government Act 1972
  11. ^ "The Cheshire (Boroughs of Halton and Warrington) (Structural Change) Order 1996", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 1996/1863, retrieved 19 January 2024
  12. ^ "Lieutenancies Act 1997", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, 1997 c. 23, retrieved 19 January 2024
  13. ^ Sandford, Mark (22 July 2021). Unitary local government (Report). House of Commons Library. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  14. ^ "Election Maps". Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 1 July 2023.
  15. ^ "Compositions calculator". The Elections Centre. Retrieved 10 August 2022.
  16. ^ "Council minutes". Warrington Borough Council. Retrieved 4 September 2022.
  17. ^ "Hughes to resign this month, say sources". Warrington Guardian. 3 February 2004. Retrieved 4 September 2022.
  18. ^ Dhillon, Aran (28 October 2019). "Former council leader Terry O'Neill dies". Warrington Guardian. Retrieved 4 September 2022.
  19. ^ "The Warrington (Electoral Changes) Order 2016", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 2016/115, retrieved 19 January 2024
  20. ^ Historic England. "Town Hall, Warrington (Grade I) (1329725)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  21. ^ "New council offices bring financial benefits". Warrington Borough Council. Retrieved 19 January 2024.
  22. ^ Barnes, Jessica (21 September 2022). "New Town House demolition begins in Warrington town centre". Warrington Guardian. Retrieved 19 January 2024.
  23. ^ "Solar farm deal to generate council cash". www.themj.co.uk. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  24. ^ "Tories raise further "serious concerns" over being denied access to Auditor's letter". 7 September 2021.
  25. ^ "Bristol Energy: Troubled company sells off domestic customer base". BBC News. 8 September 2020.
  26. ^ "Bristol Energy: Troubled company sells off domestic customer base". BBC News. 8 September 2020. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  27. ^ "Council remains confident in investment in Together Energy despite growing condemnation". 14 August 2021.
  28. ^ "Ofgem orders seven suppliers to pay £17.9m in unpaid Renewables Obligations payments".
  29. ^ a b Pickard, Jim; Thomas, Nathalie (7 January 2022). "UK council has £52m exposure to troubled power company". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 10 December 2022. Retrieved 28 January 2022.
  30. ^ Lempriere, Molly (18 January 2022). "Together Energy becomes first supplier to collapse in 2022 amidst continuing high power prices". Current. Retrieved 19 January 2022.
  31. ^ Dhillon, Aran (24 September 2019). "Redwood Bank under 'close scrutiny' from Bank of England". Warrington Guardian. Retrieved 28 January 2022.
  32. ^ Dhillon, Aran (27 August 2021). "Warrington Borough Council loans £151m to The Hut Group". Warrington Guardian. Retrieved 28 January 2022.
  33. ^ Ambrose, Jillian (26 August 2021). "Warrington council lends billionaire founder of the Hut Group £151m". TheGuardian.com. Retrieved 28 January 2022.
  34. ^ "Council debt totals £1.7bn – but value of assets worth more".