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Rap for plans to axe council; TAMWORTH: Leader claims 'wheels have come off' shake-up.

Byline: By Justine Halifax

"CONCENTRATE on what you should be doing and let us get on with our own jobs."

That was the scathing comment from Tamworth Borough Council leader Jeremy Oates as he revealed the "wheels had come off" Labour's plans to abolish the council.

It follows an "obscure" written ministerial statement from the department of Local Government Secretary, Ruth Kelly, which admits there is not enough cash to plough ahead with local government restructuring plans.

Now instead of scrapping district or county councils on a large scale by converting them into unitaries, the statement says the Government will have to "prioritise Verb 1. prioritise - assign a priority to; "we have too many things to do and must prioritize"
prioritize

grade, rate, rank, place, range, order - assign a rank or rating to; "how would you rank these students?"; "The restaurant is rated highly in the food
" a limited number of proposals.

The U-turn has been welcomed by Tamworth's leading Tory group who claim the move would have only made councils more distant to the people they were set up to serve.

Coun Oates, said: "It's another shambles for Ruth Kelly as the Government runs out of cash.

"Hot on the heels of the Home Information Packs fiasco, more wheels have come off Ruth Kelly's departmen with an effective admission that widespread local government restructuring will be too expensive to fund.

"Re-arranging local government will do nothing to improve local services and will make town halls more distant from local people.

"Working families and pensioners, already suffering from punishing council tax hikes, could see their bills rise even more to pay for this politically-motivated restructuring."

The U-turn follows reports of infighting in·fight·ing  
n.
1. Contentious rivalry or disagreement among members of a group or organization: infighting on the President's staff.

2. Fighting or boxing at close range.
 between Ms Kelly and Treasury Chief Secretary Stephen Timms Stephen Creswell Timms (born 29 July 1955, Oldham, Lancashire) is a politician in the United Kingdom and is currently Minister of State for Competitiveness at the newly created Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.  over the plans.

It is claimed the Treasury was concerned reorganisation Noun 1. reorganisation - the imposition of a new organization; organizing differently (often involving extensive and drastic changes); "a committee was appointed to oversee the reorganization of the curriculum"; "top officials were forced out in the cabinet  costs "may overrun 1. overrun - A frequent consequence of data arriving faster than it can be consumed, especially in serial line communications. For example, at 9600 baud there is almost exactly one character per millisecond, so if a silo can hold only two characters and the machine takes ", was "a waste of time", and there was no guarantee of efficiency savings.

It is believed the costs of converting district councils to unitaries would be around pounds 121 per head - equivalent to pounds 345 per council tax-paying household.

Mr Oates added: "If the Government really wanted to save money, it should start by scrapping John Prescott's tiers of regional bureaucrats. The best people to make decisions about Tamworth come from Tamworth.

"The message for Government is simple: concentrate on what you should be doing and let us get on with our own jobs. Stop imposing restructures and distraction from delivering services."
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jun 15, 2007
Words:362
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