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‘Play fair’ council blast for Whitehall
THE leadership of Worcester City Council has launched an attack on the Government - saying “enough is enough”.
A motion has been published by the new administration calling for a better deal amid bleak spending reductions.
It will be voted on in a full council meeting this Tuesday, and says:
- It’s time to cut Whitehall departments and pass on much more cash to local authorities instead
- One year funding settlements are no good, cities like Worcester need more accurate long-term spending announcements of up to five years
- Cuts to funding and too much centralisation is making services “democratically unsustainable”
- Worcester Tory MP Robin Walker should echo the concerns over services and spending to the Government
The motion comes just days after your Worcester News revealed how around £3 million is likely to be slashed off city council budgets by 2017/18.
The authority is also investigating if it can hive off services to outside providers, known as commissioning, in order to survive.
In recent years, due to the economic outlook the Government has tended to give councils just one year funding settlements, making long-term planning difficult.
The motion also notes that England has the most “centralised system of local government in Europe” and that devolution has helped voters in Wales and Scotland, but not England.
It calls for less interference from ministers in local decisions, and for more influence and spending to be passed down to councils.
It is based on a campaign called the Rewiring of Public Services, which is being led by the Local Government Association.
Councillor Adrian Gregson, city council leader, said: “The system is not working as it is, and will collapse if it continues.
“We’ve got to redefine our relationship with the Government - not just about funding but about the whole scope of how we interact.
“We are finding it difficult to operate in the parameters that have been set and our concern has been slowly growing for a number of years.”
Mr Walker said: “I’ve sealed a parliamentary debate about local government funding settlements for after (the Conservative) conference,” he said.
“I’m concerned that Worcestershire as a whole doesn’t get a better deal.
“One reason we are in such a difficult place is because councils are so reliant on money sent down from the Government.
“In the 18th and 19th century councils like Worcester raised more revenue locally and spent it - we’ve got to find more ways of allowing them to stand on their own two feet.”
If the motion is passed by a majority of councillors on Tuesday, a letter will be sent to local government minister Eric Pickles about it.