BURY'S ruling Labour group has turned down the chance to meet a government minister to discuss how cuts are affecting the town, Conservative councillors claim. 

The row comes after council leader Cllr Mike Connolly claimed that government funding formulas favour southern councils.

He said this means Bury receives £381 per person in Department for Local Government grants, compared to the national average £445.

Bury’s Tory councillors say they have spoken to the office of Brandon Lewis, the minister for local government, to arrange a delegation to travel to London and to “ensure that no technical issues” have led to this claimed inequality.

However, Labour say it was not aware of this offer and that it wants to speak to Eric Pickles, who is the secretary of state for communities and local government, and the overall head of the department.

Speaking at last week’s full council meeting, Cllr Connolly said: “I don’t want to see Brandon Lewis, I want to see big Eric.

“I am not interested in technical issues. I am interested in a fair deal for the people of this town.

“We are told we are not deprived enough, but we have some of the most deprived boroughs in the country, and we are told we are not urban or rural enough, so we suffer as a result.

“The good people of this borough are being short-changed by this Tory government.”

Bury Tory leader Cllr Iain Gartside said that Labour was “trying to paint a picture that every Labour council is paying the price” for government cuts, which he says is untrue.

After the meeting, Cllr Gartside said: “I am disappointed that they did not take up the offer to meet with Mr Lewis. It seemed as though they were making up any excuse not to.

“They said they want to see Eric Pickles but they know full well that’s not how it works.

“I would have thought they would have welcomed this. I don’t think they are really interested in getting a better deal for Bury.”