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Javid defends LGA comments that went down ‘like a bucket of cold sick’

Communities secretary Sajid Javid has defended comments he made at the Local Government Association (LGA) conference last week by saying that “good friends are honest and open with each other”.

Speaking at a summer reception hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Local Government, Javid acknowledged comments made by disgruntled councillors after he criticised the sector for losing the trust of the public following the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Delegates were reported to have said that the speech “went down like a bucket of old sick” and was also described as a “cat food lasagne” which the Cabinet minister alluded to in his speech.

But Javid stood by his comments, saying that he was only making them because he wanted to help authorities do better.

“I think it’s fair to say my speech at the LGA got a mixed reception from the local government family,” he said. “Look, I know some people weren’t happy with parts of that speech, but let me be clear. I love what local government does for this country. And I’m proud to represent you, defend you, and speak for you at the Cabinet table.

“Every day of the week, up and down the country, we see amazing work being done by councillors.”

The communities secretary went on to praise local authorities, as he said that over the past few years, Whitehall had asked a lot from councils, “and time and again you have delivered”.

“I want local government to be as good as it can be,” he continued. “Sometimes, that’s going to involve me saying things you don’t all agree with. But good friends are honest and open with each other.

“If I’m ever critical of the work being done by some local authorities, it’s only because I want to help you do better.”

Javid added that this honesty was a “two-way street” and reiterated that his door was open and his phone was always on for local government colleagues.

“If we don’t see things the same way, that’s fine,” he added. “The very nature of politics and government means we won’t always agree.

“Only through a strong, open, constructive relationship between local and central government can we make sure that councils are able to deliver the services everyone needs.”

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