A SOUTH Yorkshire council boss has branded Communities Secretary Eric Pickles “a clown” for suggesting budget cuts would not have an impact on well-run councils.
Barnsley Council chief executive Phil Coppard criticised the Government minister after his authority was ordered to trim its budget by £26 million this year - and save £45m over the next four years.
Mr Coppard said: “You’ve got this clown of a secretary of state saying that, in well-run councils, the public won’t notice any difference. I mean what planet is this guy on?
“Public servants aren’t supposed to be angry, but you look at this and it’s unfair. It’s the big lie tactic that if you tell a big enough lie, and say it often enough, then people will believe it.
“We saw this coming, but we didn’t know it was going to be this silly. We’re taking money out of every service, everything is vulnerable.”
Mr Coppard, who received an OBE in 2009 for services to local government, added he had “never seen” Government and council decisions made so quickly.
Barnsley Council Labour leader Coun Steve Houghton said: “Mr Coppard knows what the cuts means for jobs, for services, for the impact on Barnsley’s community - and he knows it’s wrong even with his independence.”
About 1,200 staff could lose their jobs at the council over the next four years and staff are facing a pay freeze plus reductions in contractual benefits.
The Department for Communities and Local Government said: “Driving down the nation’s deficit is the Government’s biggest priority.
“This was a tough but fair settlement ensuring the most vulnerable communities were protected.”