Published: October 22, 2010
Millions of pounds of council cuts set to hit Burnham-On-Sea area

Tens of millions of pounds in cuts to council-run services have been proposed by Somerset County Council just 24 hours after the Government's spending review was announced.

Services from social care to education, and bus subsidies to repairing roads look set to be cut back across the county - including in the Burnham area - over the next three years as the County Council acts on the Government's announcement.

The Government says its funding for the Council's services will be reduced in real terms by more than a quarter over the next four years.

"We have spent months looking at how we can be more efficient, and where we can cut but also how we can protect frontline services wherever possible," Somerset County Council Leader, Cllr Ken Maddock, pictured below, told Burnham-On-Sea.com.

"There are things we really didn’t want to cutback on, but we just don’t have a choice," he said.

"We already have a huge debt so borrowing more is not an option – each year we pay out £36m towards our debt."

Some of the high profile proposed cuts include roads maintenance cut by £46m over three years; youth services, ten Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and reducing the county ticket bus subsidy for students.

Other areas proposed for reductions include bus subsidies on key routes, school transport, arts funding, special education needs, truancy officers, road safety initiatives, and closing down eight out of 18 household recycling centres.

Consultations with the public will also take place in key areas, including libraries and the public will be consulted about the impact of significant cuts to the library service that could see a number of closures, including Highbridge Library - as first reported by Burnham-On-Sea.com earlier this month.

It will also include consultation with local communities and agencies to either help operate or take over some libraries entirely.

"We have protected what we can and these are very painful cuts for us to take,” added Cllr Maddock. “With the government taking more than a quarter of our funding, doing nothing just isn’t a choice for us. It’s not our doing, but it is our responsibility."

More than 700 staff could leave the council by April either through voluntary or compulsory redundancies with a further 800 posts expected to be lost over the next three years. Many of those remaining face potential pay cuts, and less generous terms and conditions to save the Council cash.

"We have reduced bureaucracy and red tape wherever we can and protected our lowest paid staff as much as possible," said Cllr Maddock. "But let’s be clear, these proposals are not the end of the process but just the first round. There will be further, and deeper, cuts announced over the coming weeks and months."

The proposals will be debated by the Council’s Cabinet meeting on 1st November ahead of any final decisions which will be taken by Full Council on 10th November. A further special council meeting is being convened for 22nd December to take further decisions as more proposed cuts are put forward.

 


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