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July 9, 2013 - Bill Esterson's Westminster Diary

Bill Esterson



People in Formby, Crosby, Maghull and Aintree value and rely on local services like libraries, health facilities, childcare and care for the elderly, but  the Tory-Lib Dem Government in London has made very clear they are completely indifferent to the wishes of people in Merseyside. 

The outrageous level of cuts made by the government mean that Sefton Council’s ability to provide those services has been significantly weakened and it’s local people who are suffering the consequences.

Eric Pickles, the Communities and Local Government Secretary,  likes to present himself as a straight talker, rarely missing an opportunity to talk up his record and lecture councils about the right way to do things. But as we have come to expect from David Cameron and his Government, the gap between what they say and what they do is huge. 

They are letting local people down and are more interested in pursuing headlines and playing political games than addressing the big problems facing places like Sefton.

Mr Pickles has failed on many occasions. 

These include lecturing councils on cutting their costs while his own department was fined £20,000 for having an unauthorised bank overdraft of £217million. 

Another example of the government’s failure was when they claimed that a poorly conceived £250million scheme had “put a stop” to fortnightly bin collections when only five local authorities had said they would use the funding to bring back weekly collections. 

One of the most disgraceful claims made by Mr Pickles was about the number of people who are homeless. The Tory minister claimed that no one needed to be homeless. The reality was rather different as in fact there had been an increase of six per cent in the number of people registered as homeless or living in temporary accommodation.

Mr Pickles has also said he would improve our high streets when he has actually made it easier for payday lenders, betting shops and fast food outlets to open in vacant shop properties, and he has claimed that he would build 170,000 new affordable homes by the end of this parliament when the number of affordable home completions has actually fallen by 29 per cent in the past 12 months.

People in Formby, Crosby, Maghull and Aintree tell me they are tired of the empty promises of the Tory-Lib Dem Government in Westminster. They value local services but Eric Pickles and David Cameron have imposed the biggest cuts on local communities like ours. 

The government has taken away £250 per year from every person in Merseyside in cuts to local government, including from some of the poorest communities in the country. At the same time, councils in Tory voting areas in places like Surrey and Berkshire have had cuts as low as just £19 per person. Some of the wealthiest parts of the country have had hardly any cuts, while the poorest areas have faced disastrous levels of cuts. 

Everyone knows that the international financial crisis has left us in a very difficult situation but cutting services for ordinary people in Merseyside while people in Surrey are allowed to carry on as if nothing happened is just plain wrong.  

 

 

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