POLITICAL COLUMN: Labour needs to up its ideas, says Eric Pickles

Eric Pickles.
Eric Pickles.

My political career began as a councillor just north of the Peak District in West Yorkshire so I am delighted to pen this column on Derbyshire County Council for the Derbyshire Times.

Lee Rowley, your excellent Conservative candidate for North East Derbyshire, has been keeping me up-to-date with events over the last year and as a local lad from Chesterfield Lee cares greatly.

Both Lee and I and have been growing more and more concerned over Labour lack of transparency and choices in local Government since the party took over in Matlock last year.

The moment they got the keys to County Hall one of their first acts was to decide to give their new cabinet a £3,000 pay rise each, an unbelievably short-sighted move.

Last month it was revealed that Labour had spent nearly a quarter of million pounds giving a ‘golden goodbye’ to its former chief executive after trying to hide the cost for many months.

Other bizarre acts was spending taxpayers’ money on a PR consultancy set up by the Labour Party in London and giving a grant to a group which sold t-shirts celebrating the death of Margaret Thatcher.

What I’d suggest to Labour is stop wasting all this money – services such as adult care, which you are now cutting, should be your priority not giving extra cash to your mates in cabinet.

You should stop raising council tax. The Government offers grants for council’s freezing tax and more money in local people’s pockets will boost the Derbyshire economy and help those who are struggling with the cost of living.

Understand how the Government can support you and realise we are here to help and want a brighter future for the people of Derbyshire as part of our long-term economic plan.

It is true the Coalition has had to make some difficult spending decisions after Gordon Brown left the economy in tatters but we have still designed a fair formula of grant allocation for local authorities.

We continue to invest in the county with finance for Markham Vale Enterprise Zone and the £2.4million fund to fix Derbyshire potholes being just two recent examples.

But key to the investment is for the Labour Party locally to step up to the plate and start governing in a more mature manner.

It is time for Labour in Derbyshire to focus on efficiency, services and innovation rather than just politics and payoffs.

What do you think? Leave your comments below.