Labour leader Ed Miliband has accused the minister in charge of council budget cuts of being “arrogant” as thousands of workers face redundancy and more services are axed, the Yorkshire Post reports.
Communities secretary Eric Pickles is using “megaphone diplomacy” and should have fought cuts in his department harder, the Doncaster North MP said, in his strongest assault yet on the cuts town halls are having to make.
Prime minister David Cameron has accused Labour-run councils of cutting services rather than making administrative savings on purpose but Mr Miliband derided that claim as “outrageous” and “pathetic”.
He admitted the Labour government should have taken more action to help private companies in small towns such as Barnsley but denied his party was to blame for the 28% cuts local authorities have to make within two years. The government says the cuts are necessary for the UK’s economic recovery.
In an interview with the Yorkshire Post, Mr Miliband, right, said: “There’s only one set of people who are responsible for this and that’s the Tory-led government in London because they have, in an arrogant way, imposed these cuts without a regard as to the impact they’re going to have. I think they will pay the price at the local council elections.”
He continued: “The attitude of Eric Pickles baffles me because I think he displays all the hallmarks of someone who is arrogant and high-handed. As far as I can tell Liberal Democrats and Tories, as well as Labour people, are quite fed up of him and he hasn’t been in the job for that long.
“Instead of engaging in megaphone diplomacy, having a go at councils, he should have been defending his corner so he wasn’t imposing such enormous cuts on people. I just think it’s tiresome.
“Of course he’s going to try to throw up smokescreens to make it about so-called non-jobs or about local authority chief executive salaries. I’m in favour of pay restraint among local authority chief executives, but the idea you can cut tens of millions of pounds by saving money on the chief executives salary is frankly an insult to people’s intelligence.”
Mr Milaband’s intervention came as former Conservative leader of Leeds City Council Andrew Carter also said Mr Pickles had not stood up for local government in Whitehall. “Maybe he wanted to appear to be a good boy. He should have ought our corner far more robustly,” he told the Guardian.