asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received from Basildon district council, following the setting by the council of a legal rate; and if he will make a statement.
I welcome Basildon's decision to fix a legal rate. No representations have been received consequent on that decision.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that Basildon district council proposes to close Billericay swimming pool from 7 May and that rate capping is the reason that the council gives for its action? Is my right hon. Friend aware also that the documents leaked to me from the management team of Basildon district council—a copy of which I gave to my right hon. Friend last night—make it clear that rate capping is not involved in the decision and that the same saving of £100,000 a year would have been achieved by cancelling the contract with Union Communications to handle the public relations for the council against the Government?
I thank my hon. Friend for letting me see those documents, because they show that the council's policy—
—wait for it. They show that the council's policy is to favour the areas regarded by the present Administration as having the greatest social need. What has the council done to implement that policy? It has cut out a recreational service but has gone on paying £100,000 to an advertising firm to conduct a campaign against Government policies. I hope that Basildon residents and ratepayers will recognise the cynicism of that decision.