The leader of Rugby Borough Council has welcomed Eric Pickles’ opposition to a unitary council for Warwickshire, after the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government branded the idea a “fundamental waste of taxpayers’ money.”
Mr Pickles was responding to a question in the House of Commons from Mark Pawsey, MP for Rugby, when he repeated his pledge to block any plans for local government reorganisation.
Mr Pawsey pointed out Rugby Borough Council had recently cut council tax by three per cent, while Warwickshire County Council - which increased council tax bills by nearly two per cent - had chosen to pursue proposals to create a unitary authority, scrapping the borough council and the county’s four other district and borough councils.
In response, Mr Pickles said: “I said before the last election that any local authority official who came to me with a proposal for a reorganisation would be met with a pearl-handled revolver that I kept in my desk. It sounds as though it is time to oil the thing again.
“We have no intention of carrying out a reorganisation. Any spending on a reorganisation is a fundamental waste of taxpayers’ money.”
Cllr Craig Humphrey, leader of Rugby Borough Council, welcomed Mr Pickles’ robust response to the county council’s proposals. He said: “I am delighted,but not surprised, to hear that the Secretary of State agrees with me that these suggestions by a tax-raising county council are the wrong proposals at the wrong time.
“I have said previously that when you need to reduce your running costs by £92million it is time to focus on what you can control, and that is your own services.
“Here at Rugby we have well-run services that are built around customer needs and offer exceptional value-for-money. We would welcome the opportunity to help the county council understand how they can improve their services while saving money and look forward to welcoming both officers and councillors to the borough to show them the Rugby way.
“In the meantime, the county council’s policy unit is wasting taxpayers’ hard-earned money on something that is not going to happen. I urge them to stop now and focus on what matters: improving their services and doing things cheaper.
“I would hate to see Jim Graham, Warwickshire County Council’s Chief Executive, at the wrong end of Mr Pickles’ revolver.”