Labour challenges Pickles over North East "No Show"

Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Caroline Flint has today challenged Tory Cabinet Minister Eric Pickles to leave his Whitehall office and visit the North East to see the devastating impact his policies are having on the region's local services.

 

Written answers to Parliamentary Questions have revealed that Mr Pickles has not made a single visit to the North East since the formation of the Tory-led coalition government. Figures also show that not one of the Department for Communities and Local Government's six strong ministerial team have made a departmental visit to the region.

 

The furthest north Mr Pickles has been in the last six months was Bradford - where he was once a councillor.

 

Speaking at Labour's North East Local Government Conference in Stockton-on-Tees this weekend, Caroline Flint said:

 

"People are absolutely disgusted that Eric Pickles hasn't made a visit to the North East in the last six months.

 

"He's making all sorts of decisions that are affecting the lives of people on Teesside, in Newcastle, in Gateshead and across the whole of the North East.

 

"So the people of the North East may not thank me for this, but I challenge Eric Pickles, come up here, explain what you are doing but more importantly listen to people and hear about the impact your policies are having on them, their families and their local services."

ENDS

 

Notes to editors

 

Watch a video of Caroline Flint's challenge to Eric Pickles at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loOKdccaFaQ

1.   An answer to a Parliamentary Written Question tabled by Shadow Local Government Secretary Caroline Flint also shows that since his appointment in May 2010, Mr Pickles has not made a single visit to the North East, the South East or the East of England.

2.    His senior ministerial colleague, the Minister for Decentralisation Greg Clark, hasn't managed to leave Westminster once since July last year and in total not a single member of the six strong Communities and Local Government ministerial team has made an official visit to the North East of England - an area being hit with some of the biggest cuts to council budgets.

3.    Parliamentary Written Question and responses:

Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the date was of each ministerial visit to each local authority area since May 2010. [38617]

Robert Neill [holding answer 7 February 2011]: Further to the answer I gave the right hon. Member on 21 December 2010, Official Report, column 1308W, since May 2010, the following ministerial visits have been made by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, my right hon. Friend the Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr Pickles), and his ministerial team:

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has visited:

the royal borough of Windsor and Maidenhead council area, on 7 June 2010;
the city of Bradford metropolitan district council area, on 29 June 2010;
the Bournemouth borough council area, from 6 to 8 July 2010;
the Liverpool city council area, on 19 July 2010;
the Southampton city council area, on 28 July 2010; and
the Birmingham city council area, on 20 January 2011.