Not fair! Another Tory council chief kicks out against cuts

Yet another Conservative council chief has spoken out against the deep spending cuts imposed on local authorities by the government.

Andrew Lewer, the leader of Derbyshire county council's opposition, conceded the councils' burden in the coalition's austerity programme had now gone "above and beyond their fair share", the Derby Telegraph reported.

His admission, which clashes with the Department for Communities and Local Government's insistence the spending settlement is a "fair deal arming councils with an average spending power of £2,240 per household", came as he refused to sign a Labour letter demanding a meeting with communities secretary Eric Pickles.

But it underlines the scale of dissent among Tories in local government at the impact the coalition's deficit reduction programme is having on their ability to provide public services.

Local authorities have been forced to face the biggest spending cuts by central government, with 26% of their budget slashed.

Pickles has refused to meet with Derbyshire's six Labour council leaders. He faces opposition to the cuts across the country.

"This isn't a political issue – councils of all political persuasions are making their voices heard across the country," Derbyshire county council's leader Anne Western said.

"It's about putting the needs of people first."

It follows a letter from the Conservative leader of Devon county council, John Hart, to Pickles earlier this month warning of the vulnerability of library services, youth services and economic growth projects.

"We cannot make these extra savings without reducing substantially the services we offer to the people of Devon," Hart warned.

Matt Colledge, leader of Trafford council, said his local authority was getting "close to the bone" in June. He said demography was "pushing social care costs through the roof" and feared Whitehall should accept more of the burden of future spending cuts.

Sir Merrick Cockell, the Conservative chair of the Local Government Association, said in July spending cuts and increased demand for services would lead to a funding shortfall of £14.4 billion by 2020.

"It is evident that a system in which demand and costs are going up and funding is going down is unsustainable and unless something changes, by the end of the decade, councils will not be able to deliver existing services in the way they are delivered now," he said.