Halt attacks or lose our support, council leaders warn No 10

Copied from Daily Telegraph 23 Jan 2012
LOCAL GOVERNMENT
By Robert Winnett, Political Editor
MORE than 30 Conservative council leaders [Including Martin Hill, leader of Lincolnshire County Council] have written a private letter to David Cameron warning that grassroots support for his re-election bid will be withdrawn unless ministers stop attacking local government.
They warn of anger about the “nature and tone of constant criticisms” directed at councils and urge the Prime Minister to stop “patronising language” being used to attack those “who work extraordinary long hours for our communities”.
The four-page letter sent to the Prime Minister, which has been leaked to The Telegraph, warns: “It is important that you understand how disappointed and even angry local activists are and how many might not be there when we need them as electoral foot soldiers.”
Those who have signed the letter include the Conservative leaders of Derbyshire, Warwickshire, Essex, Buckinghamshire, Wiltshire and Durham county councils. In total, 31 senior local councillors, mostly council leaders, have signed the document.
Ministers have become increasingly angered by the resistance of many local councils, including those run by Conservatives, to government cuts and calls for restraint on pay and pensions.
Senior figures including Eric Pickles, the Local Government Secretary, and Grant Shapps, the Conservative chairman, have made outspoken attacks over the cavalier use of taxpayers’ money by some local authorities.
Many authorities are preparing to defy central government by increasing council tax bills.
Some are suspected of attempting to blame ministers for the expected fall-out in forthcoming local elections.
In the letter to Mr Cameron, the council leaders say: “We believe it is essential to bring to your attention our concerns regarding some government policy affecting local government, the rhetoric that accompanies it and the effect it is having on our people.
“Importantly, it is not only the substance of such policy but also the nature and tone of constant criticisms of their work by Conservative ministers that is most worrying.”
They add: “To be clear, we are open to genuine feedback where it can be evidenced that we have fallen short in some way. Our issue is with ill-informed and anecdote-based general criticism and sometimes highly inaccurate personal attacks.”
The council leaders express particular anger at attacks on the pension arrangements of councillors and complain, “there seems little recognition of the efforts of our members”.
“By contrast, members of parliament (including those with other employment), police and crime commissioners and mayors are accorded a status worthy of pensions. This position was not helped by criticisms of the unanimous recommendations of the all-party select committee on local government on Radio 4’s Today programme by the party chairman which appeared to compare council leaders to volunteers running scout troops.”
The leaders also express dismay over the “apparent constant criticism” of local government for hindering economic growth. They say: “Sometimes the criticisms even seem designed to deflect criticism from Whitehall departments.”
The council leaders – who also include the Conservative heads of Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Kent, West and East Sussex councils – say they have written to Mr Cameron to urge him to take action.
“We are also worried in the widest context about the impact for the party of any continued weakening in the relationship between the parliamentary leadership and the party’s active local members.”

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2 thoughts on “Halt attacks or lose our support, council leaders warn No 10

    • I doubt very much that he would of been asked, given that this is an initiative by county and unitary council leaders. Districts are minnows when this sort of politicking is going on.

      Gary would also have to consider his position as the leader of the Conservative group at the Local Government Assoc. Life becomes very difficult when those you are trying to influence are p****d off with you. Ministers can be very spiteful when the want to. Can to think of it Eric Pickles is like that at the best of times!

      Like

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