Clegg slams council's magician cost

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has attacked a Conservative council for spending money on a motivational magician while announcing cuts in other areas.

The deputy prime minister criticised "extravagant" spending on the "wrong thing" by Labour and Conservative councils.

"Above all, what you shouldn't do when money is scarce, is waste money on extravagant or unnecessary expenditure - so the Conservative leader of the Leicestershire county council who spent over £200,000 on a chauffeur, or the Cotswold conservatives who spent thousands of pounds on a motivational magician whilst announcing cuts, or the Labour council in Derby who spent taxpayers' money putting up billboards around the city blaming everything on the coalition while planning cuts to homelessness services," he told BBC Breakfast.

"Those are examples which I think show that money by other parties is being spent on the wrong thing. I am proud, for instance, of the fact that Liberal Democrats, where we are in control, will not, unlike any of the other parties, be closing a single library during the course of this year."

Mr Clegg said "difficult savings" would have to be made regardless of who was in power, but he said the Liberal Democrats were committed to ensuring the burden of austerity was spread fairly.

Britain and countries across the developed world were going through a "difficult phase" because of "disastrous decisions" taken in 2008, he said.

"It is taking longer for the economy to heal, but it is healing bit by bit and in the meantime we need to learn to live within our means and at the same time make those savings as fairly as possible," he said.

"I think that we are getting our message across that if you want a party that does two things - does the difficult job of repairing the economy to create a stronger economy, but does so as fairly as possible, building a stronger economy in a fairer society, so enabling everyone to get on in life - that is something that only the Liberal Democrats can deliver, because you can't rely on the Conservatives to deliver fairness left to their own devices," he said.

"You certainly can't rely on Labour to deliver a stronger economy left to their own devices."

Responding to Mr Clegg's remarks, a Leicestershire County Council spokesman said: "Leicestershire County Council's current leader does not have a chauffeur-driven car. His predecessor, David Parsons, used a chauffeured car in the past but this ceased last year."