Leeds Council leader Judith Blake has written to David Cameron to ask for a meeting with his advisors in the Number 10 policy department to discuss the impact of impending council cuts.
The letter comes after it emerged the Prime Minister had written to the Tory leader of Oxfordshire County Council making such an offer to him.
It would be a breach of the Ministerial Code for the Prime Minister to offer such a meeting to one council leader - the one for the constituency he serves - but not others.
Judith Blake's letter reads as follows:
Dear Prime Minister
I am writing with regards to your recent letter to Councillor Ian Hudspeth, the leader of Oxfordshire County Council, and the offer of a meeting with your advisers in the Number 10 policy unit in order to discuss the implementation of local government cuts in your area.
In your letter to him of 14th September you stated:
“In that context, I would be happy to initiate a further dialogue with advisers in the No10 Policy Unit and yourself – please contact Sheridan Westlake if you wish to take this up.”
Letter from David Cameron to Ian Hudspeth, 14 September 2015,http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/11_11_15_cameronletter.pdf
I note from media coverage and Labour MP Jon Ashworth’s letter to Sir Jeremy Heywood, that were this offer available to Oxfordshire Council only, as the local authority relevant to your own constituency, you would be in breach of the ministerial code which makes clear that your Ministerial facilities should not be used for constituency activities.
I therefore write to request a similar meeting with your Number 10 Policy Unit.
I share your concern about cuts to frontline services, including elderly day care centres, child care centres and libraries and agree that cuts to these areas would be ‘unwelcome and counter-productive’.
As a council we have borne the heavy burden of the last set of local government cuts by making all the ‘creative’ and ‘back office savings’ we can. Having made those savings, we are now faced with further budget cuts handed down by central government and we now see no other option but to consider cuts to front line services that will hit children, the elderly and the vulnerable in Leeds.
Councillor Judith Blake
Leader of Leeds City Council