LATEST NEWS: Prime Minister attacks council spending

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PRIME Minister David Cameron has attacked Sunderland City Council for “wasting” taxpayers cash.

The PM has rounded on a number of Labour-run councils as he launches the Conservatives campaign for next month’s local elections.

He is due to make a speech to party activists in Derbyshire today in which he will hail Tory-run town halls as the “best-value councils in the country”.

Mr Cameron’s remarks are likely to enrage council chiefs in Sunderland, who pride themselves on charging the lowest council tax in Tyne and Wear while stomaching tens of millions in Government cuts and avoiding a mass-redundancy policy.

In his speech, Mr Cameron will say: “Labour councils remain trapped in their old wasteful ways. Sunderland spent £113,000 on lobbyists, Lambeth spent almost £30,000 on a sculpture called Foxes and Cherries and Camden spent almost £200,000 on seven trade union activists.

“We are shining a spotlight on that waste. We’ve changed the rules so that councils have to reveal everything they spend above £500 and hold a vote on huge salaries for top staff.

“We’ve also given councils new freedoms to co-operate, saving a fortune in back office costs, to spend money from the business rate locally, and we’ve scrapped a ton of red tape that saw Whitehall order councils how to spend their money.”

The Prime Minister’s attacks on council spending come after what has been a torrid time for his Government.

He has endured a bruising battle with critics over controversial proposals, many in last month’s budget, and his handling of difficulties such as the planned fuel tanker strike.

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