Council leaders urge George Osborne: ‘No more cuts’

George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer

George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer

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POLITICAL leaders have sent a stern warning to the government: ‘No more cuts to local authority funding’.

Ahead of the chancellor’s autumn statement on Wednesday, a letter from the Local Government Association Conservative Group demands that the government rethinks further austerity cuts.

The letter has been signed by Portsmouth leader Donna Jones, Fareham leader Sean Woodward, and supported in principle by Havant leader Mike Cheshire.

The letter states ‘more of the same’ cannot be an option.

It says after a 40 per cent reduction in funding that council’s efficiency savings are ‘coming to an end’.

The letter adds: ‘Further reductions without radical reform will have a detrimental impact on people’s quality of life, and will lead to vital services being scaled back or lost altogether.

‘Services like libraries, leisure centres and road maintenance continue to buckle under the strain of cuts and the ever-rising cost of caring for our growing elderly population,’

Cllr Jones said: ‘The financial deficit the country finds itself in is a serious issue.

‘While I am happy for Portsmouth to play a part in the economic recovery, we need to make sure it’s being done over a sensible period of time and other public services are taking their share of the cuts.

‘Local government keeps the country going on a day-to-day basis.’

Cllr Woodward said: ‘Local government has taken the brunt of savings the government has made to try and reduce the deficit.

‘No other area of government has taken the sort of cuts that local government has.

‘We hope the letter will show the government that they cannot carry on like this. They need to look at other areas such as international aid or the NHS which they have protected from cuts.’

Cllr Cheshire said: ‘I totally agree with the concept but I would have to study the letter before I put my name to it.’

The letter cites further Scottish devolution, which is set to grant more control over funding and recognises the importance of devolving power down beyond Holyrood.

The letter, which will be printed in a national newspaper tomorrow, adds: ‘It’s England’s turn now.’

Cllr Cheshire added: I am in favour of taking accountability and the responsibility as long we get the money to go with it.’

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