10:55am Wednesday 16th February 2011
THE Liberal Democrat leader on Wyre Forest District Council has joined Lib Dem council chiefs in criticising the pace and scale of the Government’s spending cuts.
Wyre Forest’s Helen Dyke, along with Liz Tucker, of Worcestershire County Council and Margaret Rowley, of Wychavon District Council, were among 88 local Lib Dem heads, including 17 town hall leaders, to warn the cuts will damage the economy, hit the vulnerable and result in forced redundancies.
The move has highlighted more divisions in the party and piled more pressure on Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
Mrs Dyke said that, ultimately, her loyalty was to the residents of her Aggborough and Spennells ward who had elected her.
She added, however: “As a Lib Dem you are allowed to have disagreements. I can’t for one moment say I agree with everything they do.”
She explained: “I am hoping this letter will show that there are concerns by local councillors and that there should be more consultation with local authorities before bringing in such drastic cuts.”
The attacks have centred on the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, who is accused of “letting down” users of council services and refusing to work with councillors.
The letter says: “What has been delivered is a difficult cuts package across all Government departments but, clearly, the most severe is to local government.
“These cuts will have an undoubted impact on all frontline council services, including care services to the vulnerable.
“Rather than assist the country’s recovery by making public-sector savings in a way that can protect local economies and the frontline, the cuts are so structured that they will do the opposite.”
Labour’s Shadow Local Government Secretary, Caroline Flint, said the letter was “too little, too late” while Lib Dem Communities Minister Andrew Stunell called on the party not to fall out over “pointless debate”.
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