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I had a cameo appearance on Newsnight last night, due to the 105 regulations that Hammersmth and Fulham Council wished to see scrapped.

Cllr Ann Ducker, leader of Conservative-run South Oxfordshire District Council, spoke well on how staff reductions of a third had been achieved n planning policy by merging the unit with the Lib Dem-run Vale of the White Horse.

Cllr Pete Robbins, a Labour councillor in Lambeth, was given a slot. He said: "You can not make cuts on this scale without affecting frontline services and Eric Pickles is lying if he thinks you can." First of all you can – certainly in Lambeth where the level of wasteful spending is appalling. (Some examples detailed by Mark Wallace here.) Secondly, what Eric has actually said was that what councils should do was look at a series of alternatives (including merging services) before cutting services. Thirdly, even if Eric was wrong if he is stating what he thinks then that doesn't make him a liar. For Cllr Robbins to be throwing that charge around so casually is thoroughly offensive.


Eric was then interviewed. He was asked about the requirement on councils to publish spending over £500. "But your own Government department doesn't do it?" Gavin Esler then said. A very strong line of attack. Doubtless the interview had been planned to really push the point. Except that the DCLG do publish spending over £500 as Eric told  him. "But we checked today it's only over £25,000," Esler persisted.

Eric then said:

"I would urge your viewers right now to go onto our website and they will see who is acccrate, you, Mr Esler, or me." 

For Gavin's benefit here is the link.

There was then an interesting and positive item on the programme on job applicants who had lost posts in the public sector having to adjust to find work in the private sector and the change in attitude required.

29 comments for: Newsnight’s ambush attempt on Pickles fails

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