Crisis in Tamworth?
"I'm from the Government, I'm here to to help you," was judged one of the three great lies of the 20th century. (The other two being: "The cheque's in the post." And: "yes, darling. Of course I will still respect you in the morning.")
The Government's announcement of an "Emergency Team" to be sent into Conservative-run Tamworth Council over Icelandic investments appears to be under this category.
Cllr Jeremy Oates, leader of Tamworth Council says:
"Tamworth Borough Council is not in any immediate financial difficultly, and this years budget will remain unchanged. There is no threat to services or wages at Tamworth Borough Council. The only help we require is to get the investment back.
"I am shocked about hearing an emergency team is being sent to us. We neither asked for or need one.
"This looks like more of an attempt to shift attention onto local councils and away from government. This government should be sending in people to help us get our investments back but they are not doing this. They have offered us no help to recover the Tamworth tax payers money from Iceland.
"What makes this more surprising is government auditors have rated us three out of four stars for financial control for the last three years. This government has continually said we are very good at handling public money, what has changed in the last two months?"
Shadow Secretary for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles says:
“I fear we may be starting to witness a return to Labour’s use of crude media management. Ministers are becoming more concerned about dripping information out bit by bit in an attempt to shift attention away from themselves and onto councils then actually properly addressing the issues.
“To add insult to injury serious questions need to be asked why Tamworth council were not informed that they were one of 3 councils. Are we seeing more chaos and confusion at the heart of government?”
What is the Government up to? Trying to show they are "doing something"? Why are they picking Tory councils to try and embarrass with "Emergency Teams"?
Even if there was an emergency in Tamworth, and the help was meant genuinely, to have made this announcement without consulting them is quite extraordinary. I would hope that all local councils would deplore the Government behaving in such a contemptible manner.