Liberal Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes has said he had advance notice of a letter signed by his party’s senior councillors attacking the Government over the pace of town hall cuts.
Mr Hughes said he knew of the letter about a day before it was published but said it was “not in my gift” to deter them.
The senior MP accused some Labour councils of politicising the cuts and laying workers off when they did not need to do so.
Eighty-eight local Lib Dem group leaders – including 17 council leaders – signed an open letter to The Times last week warning that the way the cuts had been “front-loaded” by the Treasury would have an “undoubted impact” on public services.
Underlining the tensions within the coalition, they also bitterly attacked the Conservative Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles for his “gunboat diplomacy” approach to dealing with councils.
Asked if he knew about the plan, Mr Hughes told BBC1’s Politics Show: “I did, but only about a day before.” Pressed on whether he advised against it, he said: “I thought it would be helpful if they were moderate and constructive in their language while expressing their strong feelings.”
He did not try to deter them, saying: “It was not in my gift, they had decided to do that. They are there elected by local people to represent their local authorities, that’s what they are there for. They wanted to make the point that they were going to stand up for and fight for their communities.”
He said party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was “fully aware of the strength of feeling” among Lib Dem councillors.
But he said there was a “huge difference” between the way the cuts were being handled by Lib Dem authorities and Labour-run town halls.
“There is a huge difference between councils that we run in places like Sheffield which are having a small number of redundancies, places like Portsmouth where they are opening services, not closing them, and places like Manchester and Liverpool which are clearly politicising the cuts to make it sound worse and, bluntly, forcing people out of jobs when they needn’t do so.”