Sunday, 19 December 2010

Clegg asked to rein in "Laurel and Hardy"

In a follow-up to his blog posting last week describing Eric Pickles and Grant Shapps as Laurel and Hardy of the DCLG, Liberal Democrat councillor and Vice Chair of the LGA Richard Kemp has released an email to his party leader Nick Clegg complaining about the attitude of the two ministers.

Kemp is angry because the ministers won't accept the impact that local government cuts will have on services.
"Whilst trying to have a serious discussion on these desperate issues we have too frequently been diverted by two Ministers - Pickles and Shapps - who behave more like Laurel and Hardy than members of Her Majesty's Government. They continually put forward the idea that all the savings at this massively high level can be made by increased efficiency, cuts in a small number of salaries, raiding reserves that are not needed etc etc. In fact almost every day we get from them a new gimmick.

"Their behaviour is a disgrace. Either they really do not know how serious the situation is that they have created by rushing to get brownie points by being the first to settle with the biggest front loading or they are deliberately trying to distract attention from the problems that they have created."
The BBC website carries the full text of the email, together with a response from Grant Shapps, who says:
"Maybe Mr Kemp is rattled by our new level of transparency meaning that all councils will have to publish expenditure over £500 online, exposing the inner workings of town halls to public scrutiny for the first time.
"This was a tough but fair settlement ensuring the most vulnerable communities were protected.
"If councils share back office services, join forces to procure, cut out the crazy non-jobs and root out the wild over-spends then they can protect frontline services."
In the latest posting on his blog, Kemp challenges Shapps to visit one of the councils hit by the maxim,um 8.9% cut faced by Kemp's own council, Liverpool.

He says he will apologise for the name-calling if, during the visit, Shapps can find ways of making real savings in the next financial year of of more than 3% (which Kemp says local councils have been making annually for the last 8 years).

But if not, he asks that Shapps supports a plea to the Treasury for more transitional funding for hard-hit councils.


  1. Kemp and Clegg have had a meeting of minds, according to Kemp's blog.

  2. The indefatiguable Kemp has now written to the DCLG's new non-exec director, Argos chief executive Sara Weller to ask her to carry out a 'reality check' on some 'schoolboy howlers' that he claims 'Laurel & Hardy' and their fellow minister Bob Neill have made in recent criticisms of local councils for decisions they have made on reserves and balances and on rationalisation of office premises.


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