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Will West Lancs Tories follow Blackpool Tories’ lead?

02.01.11 | Comment?

Here’s a press release battered out yesterday:

West Lancashire Labour has called on the West Lancashire Borough Council Conservative administration to join its Conservative colleagues in Lancashire in lobbying the government for a more reasonable grant settlement.

According to the BBC, “The Tory Leader of Blackpool Council, Peter Callow, says he doesn’t think the government has got its sums right or understands the position the town is in.” He is going to London to see Eric Pickles to make a case for additional funding for the forthcoming year.

Leader of the Labour Group, Paul Cotterill said:

It’s actually quite refreshing to see the Leader of Blackpool City Council put the interests of his citizens ahead of his desire to toe the party line. Yes, there’s the usual rubbish about it all being Labour’s fault that the Tories have to make massively unfair cuts in the poorest areas, but at least he’s trying to secure more cash for his residents. It would be even more refreshing if the Leader of West Lancashire Borough Council showed some solidarity with his Tory colleague, and got down to London to lobby Eric Pickles on our behalf.

The Blackpool leader’s statement to the BBC refers to the controversy over the misleading way the government has portrayed the level of cuts, with a totally new methodology used to conceal the size of grant reductions.

Cotterill continued:

This is precisely what has happened in West Lancashire. The government says the Council’s spending power has been reduced by 6.83% for the coming financial year, but the Council’s own treasurer has told us that the grant reduction will be 14.8% grant, with a further 11.5% reduction on top of that the year after. Quiite simply, the government is trying to pull the wool over our eyes about the scale of the cuts.

Sadly, when we checked whether the council had made representations about all this before the deadline in January, the Council confirmed it had done nothing at all. It does seem as though the Tories in West Lancashire is less concerned than their counterparts in Blackpool about the jobs and services that its residents will see slashed.

But there is still time to act. The Blackpool leader is going down to London on February 8th to make his case to Eric Pickles direct.  I’ll happily pay our leader’s train fare myself if he agrees to go down and show some Lancastrian Tory solidarity. That would surely strengthen the position of both Councils. As it happens, i’m working in london myself that day, so I’m happy to join them in the lobbying if they think it will be helpful.

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