Posturing from Pickles leaves only sour taste

GIVEN that the spending cuts are controversial and therefore difficult to drive through it is to be expected that, on occasion, there will be some blunt speaking from senior members of the government.

However, there is a very great danger in the stance adopted by local government minister Eric Pickles when he says council leaders in Leeds and Wakefield have been negligent and stupid if they have failed to prepare for a near 20 per cent cut in their grants.

Could council leaders really have prepared for their spending to be cut by a fifth?

We suggest not, particularly in light of the considerably less severe cuts experienced by local authorities in the south, allied to the fact that this represents the toughest council funding settlement since the Second World War.

Mr Pickles risks being seen as a man blinkered to the realities of public service if he truly believes frontline services will not be affected.

These are not merely rows of figures on a page. The cuts will impact on the jobs and livelihoods of thousands of people in West Yorkshire.

Our councils face incredibly difficult decisions as they attempt to juggle their responsibilities and finances.

Does Mr Pickles really expect them to axe services with joy in their hearts and a smile on their faces?

If he believes branding our local leaders negligent and stupid shows him to be a strong leader, he is very much mistaken.

Instead it merely paints him as someone who is wholly divorced from the realities and results of his government's policies.

Timely fundraiser

HOWEVER tough times may get – and this year they have got pretty tough – the vast majority of us at least have a roof over heads.

Yet there are many who don't and are instead forced to bed down on our city's streets each night.

This is a difficult life to lead at any time of the year, let alone when the temperatures are routinely plunging below zero.

So credit to the Simon on the Streets charity which is staging a 48-hour walkathon to raise awareness of the plight of our city's homeless population.

It is a timely message that we should not forget those who are less fortunate at this special time of the year.

Party poopers

MUM Libby Whitehead was understandably taken aback when she was told she could not buy Christmas crackers from her local supermarket.

It's not so much Asda's fault, more those who draw up the laws who are the party poopers.

Anyone in the UK wishing to buy crackers must be aged over 16 because they are classified as fireworks.

Either way, it's hard not to agree that this is one piece of legislation that is completely crackers.

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