Calls for communities secretary to resign

The leader of Portsmouth City Council Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson
The leader of Portsmouth City Council Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson

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COUNCIL leaders across The News’ region have called for Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles to resign over government cuts.

Council and Lib Dem group leaders across the area signed an open letter to the department, which criticises him for blaming local authorities over cuts.

He has enforced 28 per cent budget cuts, more than any other government department, and claimed local councils were ‘more to blame than the banks’ for the nation’s economic situation.

Portsmouth City Council leader, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, who signed the letter along with the leaders of Lib Dem groups in Chichester, Fareham, Eastleigh, Havant and Gosport, said: ‘He should resign. The way the cuts have been enforced makes no sense.

‘We have to make big cuts now, smaller cuts in later years, and it means we have had to pay out far more on redundancies than we would have if we could have used natural wastage over a longer period.’

Cllr Peter Chegwyn, leader of Gosport Borough Council Lib Dems, added: ‘He should step down and make way for someone who knows what he’s doing. To say local government is worse than the banks shows he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.’

Communities Minister, Lib Dem Andrew Stunell said: ‘We are all committed to ending Whitehall domination of local government quickly. Let’s get round the table and just get this sorted.’