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Angry councillors hit out at Eric Pickles as the annual grant funding is released
10:10pm Monday 28th January 2013 in News
ANGRY councillors have rounded on the Government for “patronising” town halls by the way the latest annual grant funding was announced.
In a debate at Worcestershire County Council, politicians said they were “tired of the continual targeting” of local authorities for cuts.
Worcester City Council is having its funding slashed 19 per cent by 2015, while in Wychavon bosses are battling with a 22 per cent decrease over the next two years.
County Hall has been handed a one-year settlement which shows a decrease of five per cent, and nationally every town hall has been given a reduced offer.
At the time of the announcement Eric Pickles MP, the local government minister, published a booklet listing ‘50 ways to save money’ for town halls.
During a meeting of full council, the Liberal Democrat group put forward a motion criticising Mr Pickles.
It said: “The further reductions in funding for local services comes on top of the unprecedented cuts councils already have to implement.
“It is bad news for local services and for early intervention and it undermines the role councils can play in promoting economic recovery.”
It also said delaying the settlements by a fortnight until six days before Christmas effectively reduced the standard six-week consultation period to four, and that as it fell during the festive period councils had less time to respond.
It said: “They deserve better than this patronising booklet on 50 ways to save money.”
During the debate Councillor Sue Askin, a Liberal Democrat, said: “I recognise the need to save money, but I am tired at the continuing targeting of local government by Eric Pickles.”
Every speaker agreed local government was under attack, but Coun Peter McDonald, leader of the Labour group, said: “These Liberal Democrats cannot go on blaming other people.
“They need to blame themselves as their party is part of the Coalition.”
A motion was agreed attacking Eric Pickles, but both Labour and the ruling Conservatives agreed to add the name of Don Foster MP to the motion, a Liberal Democrat who helps out in the department.
Mr Pickles has called for councils to use up some of their reserve pots to plug budget gaps – money stashed away for when times are tough.
He has also criticised them for what he calls “unfounded predictions of doom and gloom”.