Pickles hailed council deal as a 'bargain'

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles prompted warnings of further reductions in services when he announced this month that English councils would have their spending power reduced by 1.7% next year.

Mr Pickles claimed the settlement represented a "bargain" for local authorities, adding that the Government would offer support for the third year so that council taxes could be frozen.

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Councils warn of civil unrest

The council leaders of three of England's biggest cities - Newcastle, Liverpool and Sheffield - have warned of increasing social unrest and community tensions in the north, which they say has been hit worse by austerity than the south.