Calls for job cuts gaffe Tory councillor to resign

JPCT-09-02-11-web Michael Brown
JPCT-09-02-11-web Michael Brown

CRITICISM of a senior Tory county councillor is mounting after comments made regarding 1,300 potential job losses at WSCC.

This week a senior Labour politician has called for the resignation of West Sussex County Council’s cabinet member for Finance and Resources over comments made in an exclusive County Times interview two weeks ago.

Since the interview senior union officials, opposition politicians and readers of this newspapers have all voiced concerns over Michael Brown’s choice of language a fortnight ago.

Last week, Lib Dem Group Leader Morwen Millson told the County Times how the comments were ‘almost offensive to staff’ facing potential redundancy.

Now, David Hide, chair of the Horsham Labour Party, is calling for his resignation from position of cabinet member for finance and resource at WSCC.

He said: “Tory county councillor, Michael Brown’s comments in his interview for the County Times (Tory Defends Plans for spending cuts, 26 May Edition) illustrates just how out of touch he is with everyday reality.

“It beggars belief that he should be in charge of county council finances. His casual approach to the sacking of hardworking public sector employees displays a level of arrogance which can only be born out of ignorance of the devastating effect redundancy can have on an individual and their family.

“Yet another ‘on your bike’ Tory.

“It is not just the nonchalant approach Brown displays to sacking public sector employees that should worry us all, but his complete lack of understanding of the effect that these cuts will have on the fabric of our communities.

“The only satisfaction Horsham Labour Party will gain from his comments, would be that, on reflection he concedes the sheer stupidity of this statement and resigns, in so doing acknowledging that he is unfit to undertake his role within the cabinet.

“In asserting ‘I can give the readers of the County Times the full satisfaction of saying job cuts in the county council will have no impact on them whatsoever’ he displays a level of ignorance that should send alarm bells through County Hall.

The labour leader then hits out at Morwen Millson’s comments, claiming she is letting Tories ‘off the hook’.

“And what of the opposition, the Lib Dems? They dislike Cllr Brown’s turn of phrase, with their leader managing to describe his comments as ‘almost offensive’ but then, as quoted in last week’s County Times, choose to concede that their Tory friends ‘are stuck between a rock and a hard place’, so letting them off the hook once again.”

Michael Brown declined the chance to comment, saying he feels that he cannot add to his letter that was published in the County Times last week.

Here’s what Michael Brown told the County Times.

IN AN exclusive interview with the County Times two weeks ago Michael Brown played down the impact of 1,300 potential job losses at West Sussex County Council.

He said: “Do I feel happy about 1,300 loss to jobs? Well, it’s not like they will go on the dole the next day. Many of them will take voluntary redundancy, and others will be happy to take up the opportunity of a fresh start in a new career - perhaps they would like to retrain as a teacher, and this is perfect chance for them to do so.

“The jobs cuts do not make me jump for joy. Of course, if there was another way we would choose it, but given the current situation we’re in I’m sure everyone can understand.

“The first assumption you make about a company is that the more you employ the more efficient you are. But I would say that experience in the government tells me that size of the work force and efficiency does not correlate.”

He added: “I can give the readers of the County Times the full satisfaction of saying job cuts in the county council will have no impact on them whatsoever. We have gone to great lengths to protect the front-end user services - 80 per cent of the cuts will not be cuts to services, it will be absorbed in management facilities.

“We’re not cutting services nearly as much as other councils, instead, we’re making the council slimmer and smaller and leaner.”

Since the interview Mr Brown has faced mounting pressure from workers unions and opposition politicians.