Eric Pickles to receive a knighthood

Eric Pickles

The former cabinet minister Eric Pickles is to be given a knighthood, Downing Street has announced.

The secretary of state for communities and local government in the previous parliament will be made a knight bachelor in recognition of his public service as an MP, and his time in the cabinet and local government, it emerged on Friday.

Pickles, 63, who was first elected to parliament in 1992, lost his frontbench role to Greg Clark during the reshuffle by the prime minister, David Cameron, on 11 May.

He has since been made an anti-corruption tsar and remains the Brentwood and Ongar MP. He was re-elected with 59% of the vote at the general election.

Pickles said his family were absolutely delighted at the news. He said: “I’m obviously very pleased with the honour and am looking forward to my day at the palace. When I left the cabinet, the prime minister asked if I would accept a knighthood and I indicated that I would, but it then has to go through a committee. I’m very pleased.”

Pickles served as the Conservative party chairman from 2009-10. Before entering parliament, he had a long career in local government. He was elected to Bradford council in 1979 and was its leader between 1988 and 1990.

He has since changed his Twitter name to Sir Eric Pickles and uploaded a photo of the letter he received from the prime minister. It said: “I wanted to write to express my heartfelt gratitude for the outstanding service you have given to our great party and, in particular, for the loyalty you have always given me – both as prime minister and, before that, as leader of the opposition.”

Pickles letter
Eric Pickles posted a letter sent by the prime minister on Facebook. Photograph: Facebook

“You have been such a hardworking, dedicated and committed colleague over the past years – it has been a real joy to work with you and you have brought so much to our team. I really could not wish for a better ‘chum’ in parliament.”

Cameron applauded Pickles’ achievements in cabinet, including “bringing down the cost of local government, delivering cost-effectiveness to local residents while protecting services, fighting corruption at all levels, and combating extremism and radicalisation”. He said Pickles laid the ground for the Tories’ housing policies, such as right to buy, which is “helping more people on to the housing ladder with the security that home ownership brings”.

During his time as the communities minister, Pickles introduced the Localism Act 2011, which changed the powers of local government in England, and spearheaded local council funding cuts. He was also vocal about a range of issues including institutional abuse in local councils following the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal and the response of the authorities during the 2014 floods.

Powered by article was written by Nadia Khomami, for on Friday 22nd May 2015 12.25 Europe/ © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010