Now even Tory council chiefs have a go at Pickles

Communities secretary Eric Pickles has come under attack from a number of Tory council leaders over the government's savage cuts to local councils, reports Shamik Das.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles has come under attack (£) from a number of Tory council leaders over the government’s savage cuts to local councils – which even they describe as “potentially devastating”, “unfair” and affecting the north more than the south. Their anger echoes that of Liberal Democrat town hall leaders, who wrote a letter (£) to The Times earlier this month criticising the impact of the cuts and Pickles’s management style.

The letters to Pickles were obtained via a Freedom of Information request from Sky News, who report this morning:

The letter from John Weighell, Tory leader of North Yorkshire County Council, warns:

“The timescale that we are now expected to reduce budgets further is bound to result in a higher impact on front line services than any of us would want.”

While North Yorks chief executive Richard Flinton adds:

“Overall the settlement will be devastating for council services… If this settlement stands unaltered then the consequences in North Yorkshire for service delivering will be devastating.”

Last week, Left Foot Forward reported that the communities secretary had made only one ministerial visit in six months and had not made a single visit to the North East, South East, East of England or a London borough since his appointment, with Minister for Decentralisation Greg Clark making no visits whatsoever since last July, and only four visits since since being appointed.

And last December, Will Straw revealed that the government’s cuts to local authorites would unfairly target Britain’s poorest areas, pointing out how:

“Poor areas like Hackney (-8.9%), Newham (-8.9%), Tower Hamlets (-8.9%), and Islington (-8.8%) find themselves with the deepest cuts while richer areas like Richmond (-0.61%), Havering (-1.71%), and Harrow (-1.9%) are best off…

Manchester, Liverpool, South Tyneside, and Knowsley get take the maximum hit of -8.9% while less deprived areas like Solihull (-3.49%), Dudley, (-3.39%), and Trafford (-3.79%) do far better.”

At the time of the CSR, the chancellor insisted:

“…[those with] the broadest shoulders should bear the greatest burden.”

Now even Tory council leaders believe this not to be the case.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.