Northern councils well Pickled

Map of Britain.
Map of Britain.

Forget about the Ghost of Eric Pickles past and the Ghost of Eric Pickles Present – following the festive season it’s the Ghost of Eric Pickles Future that we should all be paying attention to.

The Communities and Local Government Minister is continuing with a cuts programme worth £21 billion.

If the news that libraries, swimming pools and museums might close isn’t enough for you – take a look at the map (pictured right). Notice anything odd?

That’s right – the cuts are been made in the North so that the safe Tory seats in the South East can be protected.

It’s nothing short of a national scandal when local people in our district face a cut nearly five times larger than the cut for residents in leafy Surrey Heath.

As a result of Eric Pickles’ cuts programme Lancaster City Council needs to cut £3m from its budget with Lancashire County Council facing an eye-watering £330m.

When you take out the things that councils must do by law this leaves very little left.

The councils already share services, have automated and squeezed ‘efficiency savings’ where they can and use every trick in the book to protect the services we rely on.

However, in the midst of this bleak picture, I’m proud of the two Labour councils and the work they are doing to ensure that the most vulnerable are protected from the Pickles wrecking ball.

The county council has introduced a living wage meaning that nobody who works hard to deliver our public services finds they are unable to pay the bills at the end of the month.

In another bold move Lancaster City Council has also protected those on the very lowest incomes from a cut in their Council Tax Benefit.

Under Tory plans those earning £71 per week would have lost three weeks’ wages each year – the Labour Council has ensured that this money stays in their pockets.

Amina Lone

Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Morecambe and Lunesdale.