Tory MP for Morecambe says Lancaster Labour leader should quit over cuts

Coun Eileen Blamire, leader of Lancaster City Council, and the People Power website.
Coun Eileen Blamire, leader of Lancaster City Council, and the People Power website.
  • War of words between David Morris and Eileen Blamire
  • Coun Blamire says Mr Morris “has his head in the sand”
  • MP blames council for “financial mismanagement”
  • Council says it is in “impossible position”

Morecambe MP David Morris has called for the resignation of Lancaster City Council leader Eileen Blamire over proposed cuts to local services.

This week, Coun Blamire said the Conservative MP “has his head in the sand” over “appalling” cuts to local government funding.

But Mr Morris hit back saying the council was mismanaging its finances and “has no vision and no scope”.

Last night, the council agreed in part cuts of £2.8m over the next two years, with a total of £5.6m due to be axed in government grants up to 2020.

Jobs, community and voluntary funding, CCTV, swimming pools, waste collection, council buildings, Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and arts funding all face the axe under the proposals.

Coun Blamire, a retired teacher who has been a Labour councillor in Lancaster for 24 years, said the impact on the public will be tremendous, and there would be some “even worse” decisions to be made in the future.

“Some of the things that we’re having to do are appalling,” she said.

“It’s the poor that suffer like they always do.

“As the middle classes start to feel the cuts, I hope that more people will stand up and be counted. I want people to get angry because lives are being ruined.”

She added: “I have to say this, David Morris has got his head in the sand when it comes to local government funding.

“He won’t come to talk to us about it. We’ve begged and begged David Morris to come, but he doesn’t want to face up to it. I’d be quite prepared to have a public debate with him and I want him to go back to his government and tell them there are other ways to manage this.”

But Mr Morris has today slammed the Labour controlled council for “financial mismanagement”.

“I’ve looked into all the claims she’s made and she should resign for what she has said,” said Mr Morris.

“Around 10 per cent of the council’s annual income comes from central government grants.

“They get £7.9m from council tax and will be increasing it by £400,000 over the next two years.

“They’re not managing the £110m they get over the whole of the district.

“They’ve got £12m in reserves, the market cost them £13m, and they’re still paying off something like £500,000 on the Storey Institute. Leisure services are losing £1.5m a year, £1m of which is through Salt Ayre. They’re spending £140,000 a year on the Mayor’s office, the Platform is losing £116,000 a year and the Tourist Information Centres are losing £100,000 each. We only really need one in the district.”

Mr Morris said: “Maybe it’s time Eileen Blamire stepped aside.”

He also said that in 2020 Lancaster City Council would receive no central government grant, but this would be more than covered by business rates which would go direct to the council rather than to central government.

He added: “I want Lancaster City Council to be in a position by 2020 to manage its money, rather than the financial mismanagement I’m seeing.

“The bottom line is I want my area to do well and I want my constituents to come along.”

We put Mr Morris’ figures to Lancaster City Council, and Coun Blamire responded: “It’s amazing that Mr Morris cannot not see the effects of his government’s policies and the fact that councils up and down the country are in the same position as us seems to have passed him by.

“Local government as a whole is struggling and Lancashire County Council is faced with exactly the same stark choices. The reality of the situation is that the council is in an impossible position due to the relentless cutbacks being imposed on us by the Government. Taking complicated financial figures such as this out of context is meaningless and the reality is exactly as we’ve already said.”