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Secret letters show local councillors fear of cuts.


9:53am 22nd February 2011

Secret letters between the leader of North Yorkshire County Council and the Government lay bare the depth of frustration felt, over cuts of up to 8.9%.

An investigation by Sky News, using the Freedom of Information Act, reveals growing tensions in the relationship between the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and local councils.

In a letter to Mr Pickles on December 23, Tory leader of North Yorkshire County Council John Weighell said:

"The implications for North Yorkshire are potentially devastating and I believe that the settlement is unfair in the way that it treats this council with serious consequences for front line services.

"I understand the need to tighten public spending and North Yorkshire County Council expects to have to play its part, but this settlement goes beyond any of our expectations.

"We are low spending, low taxing and a high-performing council. We have already delivered considerable efficiencies to achieve this position.

"This settlement appears to penalise those of us who are amongst the most efficient already.

"The timescale that we are now expected to reduce budgets further is bound to result in a higher impact on front line services than any of us would want."

On the same date, the council's chief executive Richard Flinton wrote an accompanying letter, which warned:

"Overall the settlement will be devastating for council services.

"North Yorkshire County Council does not have a history of raising such concerns but this proposed settlement is so severe and we believe in a number of areas so inequitable and unfair that we are formally moved to ask you to reconsider the terms of the settlement.

"If this settlement stands unaltered then the consequences in North Yorkshire for service delivering will be devastating."

Plans for £69m of cuts covering a range services were unveiled last week.

While Labour and Liberal Democrat-controlled councils have been outspoken against cuts, it is the first time the anger of many Tory-led authorities has been revealed.

The investigation also looked into councils in Blackpool and Essex.

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