Councils being set up to take blame for cuts, warns Trickett

29 Sep 15

Shadow local government secretary Jon Trickett has warned the government’s Spending Review process to negotiate devolution deals may amount to an attack on local democracy.

Speaking at the Labour party conference in Brighton, he warned that councils are “on the edge of a financial precipice” under the Conservative government’s funding reductions.

Comparing Chancellor George Osborne’s spending plans to Conservative policies in the 1980s, he said “they attacked local democracy then and they are doing it again now”.

He added: “The chancellor’s crooked smile when he offers devolution betrays his intention to hand over responsibility for the cuts to councilors in order to avoid he blame falling on himself.

“Councils are on the edge of a financial precipice [and] they may achieve what Thatcher never did – the very principle of local democracy is in peril.”

Trickett said that the central ethos of public service – that some services are best provided collectively – was at the heart of local government but was now at risk.

“We do believe in active government, on your side especially when you are struggling or times are difficult,” he added.

However, this would not mean the same as over-centralised state provision, and Labour’s new constitutional convention would aim to redesign politics in local areas.

“We will end Britain’s top-down politics,” Trickett said.

“We will leave no stone unturned. Only when we hear their voices of real people and transformed our politics will we be able to say that our democracy is properly re-established.”

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