Council leader challenges Cameron over cuts advice

Cuts protest
Cuts protest outside Lambeth town hall in Brixton
Cllr Lib Peck
Lambeth council leader Lib Peck

Lambeth council leader Lib Peck has written to prime minister David Cameron demanding the same treatment for Lambeth’s Labour-controlled administration that he offered his local Conservative-controlled council.

Cameron offered Ian Hudspeth, leader of Oxfordshire County Council, a meeting with advisers in the Prime Minister’s own Downing Street policy unit to discuss local government cuts in the area.

Lib Peck said if this offer was only available to Oxfordshire Council, the Prime Minister would be in breach of the official ministerial code that says ministerial facilities should not be used for constituency activities.

“I therefore write to request a similar meeting with your Number 10 Policy Unit to discuss the funding of local services in Lambeth.”

She went on: “I share your concern about cuts to frontline services, including elderly day care centres and libraries, and agree that cuts to these areas would be ‘unwelcome and counter-productive’.”

Peck said it was “extraordinarily hypocritical” to make these comments at the same time as imposing more deep cuts to local government budgets.

She said Cameron’s recommendation that councils cut “back office” costs would be of little comfort to the over 1,000 members of Lambeth staff she said the council had been forced to cut since he came to power.

“We now face the challenge of finding at least a further £90m out of our budget over the next three years,” said Peck.

“Our legal and moral obligation is to protect vulnerable adults and children in social services but, with your proposed cuts, even the delivery of such vital statutory services will be imperilled.”