IPSWICH: Gummer and Ellesmere clash after Autumn Statement
The Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Autumn Statement produced an expected war of words between local and national politicians.
While the statement gave the context in which finance decisions will be taken, local authorities have another two weeks to wait before hearing their financial fate.
However there was some good new for both rail passengers and road users.
The government is to scrap plans to introduce a 3p a litre rise on fuel duty in January – while the proposed rail fare rises over the next two years would be reduced from inflation plus three per cent to inflation plus one per cent.
George Osborne’s warnings that austerity measures would have to last longer – until 2018 at the earliest – provoked mixed reaction from politicians in the area.
Ipswich Conservative MP Ben Gummer welcomed the statement: “The situation we inherited in 2010 was very bad, with a deficit that was increasing.
“The Chancellor today announced the kind of measures I have been advocating – reducing current spending while investing in projects that will be good for the future.
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“There is no quick or easy fix, whatever the opposition might say. We have to continue because it is the government’s policies that are backed by the city and will enable the country to emerge eventually.”
However Ipswich’s Labour council leader David Ellesmere – who will be challenging Mr Gummer at the next general election, said the statement was an admission of failure.
He said: “The government has no policies that are looking at getting us out of this recession – all they are offering is austerity measures running until 2018. The country desperately needs a change in direction.”
His authority was reasonably confident it would be able to cope with next year’s settlement, but it had real concerns after that.
He said: “The message from this really was pretty grim – there is no growth which is what the country needs.
“We will know the details later, but while things should be okay next year, the following years are looking pretty grim if the government doesn’t change its policies.”
Councils are expected to hear how much the government will give them on December 18 or 19 – giving their finance officers a busy time during the days leading up to Christmas.