England

Regional government offices face axe

The government has announced plans "in principle" to abolish Government offices in the English regions.

The eight offices coordinate activity between local authorities and also between local and central government, employing about 1,500 people.

The closure of the London office has been announced. It employs 200 people.

Cabinet minister Eric Pickles said they were not voices for regions in Whitehall but "agents of Whitehall to intervene and interfere in localities".

The regional offices cover the South West, South East, East Midlands, West Midlands, East, North West, Yorkshire and the Humber and the North East.

'He should apologise'

A spokesman at the Department for Communities and Local Government said issues still to be resolved included the redeployment of staff.

He said the government would do all it could to avoid compulsory redundancies and final decisions on the closures would be made during the spending review in the autumn.

A spokesman from the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) said in response: "That is a disgraceful way for Pickles to describe his staff, who are dedicated public servants committed to doing the best for their communities.

"He should apologise."

The union said Mr Pickles had failed to explain how the plan would save money and said it was likely to cost more due to increased duplication and service procurement.

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