Commenting on Brighton & Hove City Council’s decision at the weekend to withdraw Ł4.5 million of council taxpayers’ money from Santander bank, Cllr.Geoffrey Theobald– Leader of the Conservative Group – said: “I have been warning about the dangers of keeping council taxpayers’ money in certain foreign banks for the last year and so I support this decision by the Council’s professional finance officers. However, this prudent decision contrasts sharply with the reckless manner in which the Green and Labour Party’s decided to play politics with council taxpayers’ money invested in Barclays Bank at a Council meeting just a few weeks ago.”
At this Council meeting the Green and Labour Groups joined forces to instruct the Council’s professional finance officers to withdraw its money from Barclays Bank on the grounds that Barclays is ethically unsound. This move was strongly opposed by the Conservatives who described it as political posturing worthy of the ‘Loony Left’ councils in the 1980s. Finance officers had assessed Barclays Bank to be one of the safest places for council taxpayers’ money.
Cllr. Theobald added: “Barclays is one of the safest banks and going against professional advice in this way, and narrowing the pool of potential investment options is utterly irresponsible. I am still awaiting a reply to my letter to Ed Miliband, asking whether it is now national Labour Party policy to boycott Barclays Bank.”
Conservative Group Finance Spokesperson – Cllr. Ann Norman – also criticised the politicisation of the Council’s financial management: “We argued at the time of the Barclays debacle that the Greens and Labour should let the professional finance officers get on with their job and stop interfering for spurious political reasons. These excellent officers protected council taxpayers’ money during the Icelandic banking crisis and I’m sure they have made the correct decision again with Santander.”