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Shropshire Council leader's letter brands attacks on ip&e 'political'

Oswestry | News | Published:

The leader of Shropshire Council has hit out at critics of the authority's private company – branding their attacks "politically motivated".

Councillor Keith Barrow has addressed an open letter to critics of ip&e, describing misunderstandings over the company's role as "incredibly frustrating".

The company was set up by the council in 2013 to allow it to sell its services to other companies and authorities, with the aim of saving and eventually making money for Shropshire's taxpayers.

Councillor Barrow said misinformation about the company and his involvement – such as inaccurate claims he holds shares in it – are "bizarre".

He said: "It is totally politically motivated. I don't care because I am a politician and I am fair game. If they want to criticise me then go ahead, but I think it is completely unfair to the staff that do a great job. I think they are going to be very successful, save us a lot of money, and help to bring more money into Shropshire Council, which is good for the taxpayer."

Councillor Barrow said he was becoming increasingly frustrated by repeated misconceptions about his involvement with the company.

He said: "People just seem to misunderstand what it is about. We have had a Freedom of Information request asking how much I get paid as chairman of the company? The answer is nothing!

"I think it also asked do I have any interests in any companies that might be bidding for work with ip&e and the council. I don't have any companies the council will be getting involved in, it is all a bit bizarre."

Councillor Barrow, who represents Oswestry South, also refuted allegations of secrecy surrounding ip&e's role, claiming that publicity could jeopardise its ability to make money for Shropshire Council.

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He said: "If we publicise our business plan and it says what market share we are going after, how we are going to do it, our competition would use it to beat us on contracts. It would be totally counter-productive.

"Any councillor can see everything it does. Any councillor can meet with the directors, the management staff, ask any questions, but obviously if the answers are commercially sensitive they can't share it with the world."

Critics have claimed that ip&e is effectively the privatisation of council services. But Councillor Barrow claimed it could not be further from the truth.

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