Nov-Dec: A very Pickles Christmas

You can't please all of the people all of the time. So why bother trying? You're not in government to make friends. 

If ever there was a man who that suits just fine, it's Eric. He'll even upset his own team, if needs be. In fact, if needs be, he'll blast the ball into his own net then slide down the pitch with his shirt pulled triumphantly over his head.

Of course, the chief must be used to complaining by now from the usual suspects north (and south-west) of the Watford Gap about cuts to this, that and, well, everything else. But they keep doing it. Last month, the 45 members of the Special Interest Group of Municipal Authorities (SIGOMA) accused the Government of hammering a wedge into the North-South divide, waving about figures showing council budgets in London and the South East grew by £235m between 2010 and 2012, while the rest of England shared a net loss of £4.5bn.

The North and Midlands are also losing out under the New Homes Bonus, which favours overheated Southern locales where developers are elbowing each other out of the way to throw up new housing, as well as welfare reforms and a 15 per cent real terms cut to central funding in 2015-16, SIGOMA said.

The Coalition, cried SIGOMA ringleader Councillor Sir Stephen Houghton, is showing a "complete disregard for the mounting pressure faced by certain councils and the pain it is causing their residents".

Eric welcomes Sigoma's constructive criticism. Well proud Yorkshireman Eric wasn't having that. Or rather London-born local government minister Brandon Lewis, former co-host of The Eric and Brandon Show (no really), Nicey to Eric's Smashy, Little to his Large, Rudolph to his Santa, wasn't having it on his behalf.

"Council funding is fair to North, South, rural and urban areas," he declared, accusing SIGOMA of "scaremongering" - the second worst kind of mongering.

It's par for the course from that municipal lot - and do you hear a word of thanks when you don't volunteer them for more cuts in the Autumn Statement? Do you 'eck as like.

However, in the spirit of DCLG fairness to all, Eric is just as adept at upsetting true-blue Tory shires as Labour's Northern fiefdoms over funding - and Oxfordshire County Council recently found out that you don't come it with Mr P.

County hall would have us believe all is not well in the lush hills and vales of Dav and Sam Cam's backyard, as a round of £61m in cuts threaten children's centres and frontline services.

In an interview with the Oxford Mail, Eric delivered a healthy dose of straight-talking tough love.

"Yes, but £61m out of, what, £2.5bn?" he huffed.

"Oxfordshire receives roughly per household £100 more than the average for a county council. Given that other county councils are able to manage on a lot less money, I am sure Oxfordshire will be able to do that."

Come on, cuts of £61m from a budget of £2.5bn shouldn't be a problem. And if Oxfordshire County Council's budget was £2.5bn, there probably wouldn't be a problem. But it, er, isn't.

Leader Ian Hudspeth rather unhelpfully pointed out that his council's gross budget is actually £898m. Even if you add up the budgets for all six councils in the county, you only get £1.29bn.

"I was astonished to learn from the interview he conducted with the Oxford Mail that councils in Oxfordshire had £1.2bn more to spend than we all realised and that, contrary to our own calculations, we get £100 per household more in cash from Whitehall than the average for a county council," Hudspeth said.

"Perhaps the fresh round of savings we've been talking about for months would not be necessary after all, I thought.

"Our chief finance officer will be writing to him to set out the figures in black and white."

So no Christmas card?