Government Office in Cambridgeshire to close

CAMBRIDGESHIRE’S Government Office is due to be closed after the Government said it lacks “democratic legitimacy”.

CAMBRIDGESHIRE’S Government Office is due to be closed after the Government said it lacks “democratic legitimacy”.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said he is “doing away with an unnecessary tier” by scrapping the department along with eight others across the country.

He criticised the office as part of an “over-centralised state” but GO East staff, whose job is to represent the Fens in Whitehall, warn the move could seriously undermine localism.

The fate of 150 workers now hangs in the balance after Mr Pickles said: “Government Offices are not the voices of the region in Whitehall.

“They have become agents of Whitehall to intervene and interfere in localities. They are a fundamental part of the command-and-control apparatus of England’s over-centralised state.”

Ian Barton, GO East representative for the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, said: “We believe there is a strong case to either retain Government Offices or at the very least retain a number of the key functions we undertake.”

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He added that it is advantageous to base Civil Servants “close to the public we serve” and said staff and the general public had been “completely disregarded”.

Mr Barton said: “The decision has been taken with no regard to the important work that is carried out here, from helping to protect vulnerable children to responding to emergencies.”

The Department for Communities and Local Government said GO East’s “continuing existence has created a democratic deficit”.

Mr Pickles said the final nail in the coffin for the GO is likely to be during the autumn Spending Review, when it is set to be confirmed for the chop.

He said: “We do not believe the arbitrary Government regions to be a tier of administration that is efficient, effective or popular.”

Yet despite Mr Pickles’ tough rhetoric, his statement concedes: “There are some Government Office functions which will need to continue.

“The Spending Review will be used to decide which activities currently carried out by the Government Offices should continue.”

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