Friday, February 11, 2011

Letter to the Times

Today, 131 of the most senior Labour councillors sign a letter to the Times

David Cameron acknowledged in a speech in 2009 that “local government is officially the most efficient part of the public sector”. As councillors and elected mayors we will work to continue to drive down the costs of delivering quality public services. However, we feel that the Secretary of State for Local Government, Eric Pickles, has been disingenuous about the impact his cuts will
have on our ability to provide services. The design and depth of the cuts to local authority budgets will undoubtedly hurt local economies and damage frontline services. Because of the costly long-term impacts these cuts will have to our communities and our local economies we believe it is important that we keep the discussion with the Government open. We therefore invite Liberal Democrat councillors to join us in writing to their fellow Liberal Democrat, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, to ask him to ask Eric Pickles to look again at the unfairness of the Tory-Lib Dem Government’s cuts.

According to Next Left, the relationship between local authorities and the ministerial team at DCLG is now at rock bottom and digging down, so future conversations will be had through the Lib Dems at the Cabinet Office. How long this situation can be allowed to continue is a very difficult question, as Pickles has proven himself to be a spectacularly unpopular Secretary of State, aided in this quest by his sidekicks Shapps and Stunnell. While the depth and breadth of the cuts is certainly an issue, it is the repetitive attempts to shift the blame for actual service reductions onto the local authorities and the level of the spin being used to attack councils that has really angered councillors. Will Cameron let the departmental dysfunctional relationship with their local authority colleagues continue and risk the whole thing grinding to a halt? Can he tempt Pickles away with some pies and another post?

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