GORDON Brown has claimed that Swindon Council is cutting public services in the town on the orders of the national leadership of the Conservative Party.

The Prime Minister claimed that Swindon was typical of a Tory-run council, in cutting back on the investment necessary for the town.

But the deputy leader of the council has hit back at the criticism by saying that cuts were only being made where absolutely necessary.

Mr Brown was responding to South Swindon MP Anne Snelgrove at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday.

Mrs Snelgrove said: “Local people are very concerned about Swindon Council’s cuts in park and ride services and about cuts of up to four branch libraries, despite more than £400,000 of extra funding from the Government.

“Is that not a warning of Tory public service cuts instead of Labour investment?”

Mr Brown said: “You do not have to look in a crystal ball – you look at every Tory authority round the country.

“They are cutting back on public services, obeying the orders of the Conservative leadership that cuts in public services come before the investment that they need.”

The Prime Minister, in a nod to the forthcoming European elections, which are scheduled for June 4, added: “That is one of the issues that people will be talking about in the next few weeks, because it affects real lives.”

But Swindon Council’s deputy leader Fionuala Foley hit back at the claims, saying: “I am not at all surprised at these cheap political stunts.

“I am happy to have our lead member for resources sit Anne down and explain to her why we can’t use one-off funding to plug huge revenue gaps in the budget.

“We would not be closing a park and ride unless we had no other choice. We are carrying out consultation on a possible three library closures.

“I still hope they can stay open but whatever happens there will be library book provision in those areas.”