Published: December 29, 2010
County Council Leader 'optimistic' for 2011 despite financial cuts

Somerset County Council Leader Ken Maddock has this week spoken of his optimism for the year ahead despite the threat of further multi-million pound financial cutbacks across our area.

In his New Year's Message issued on Wednesday (December 29th), Cllr Ken Maddock warned that further severe cuts will have to made to public services during 2011.

He says: "There’s no doubt that 2010 has been a tough year for everyone. For me as leader of Somerset County Council, it has definitely been one of the most difficult and challenging of my political career."

"Difficult, because after already agreeing £43m of savings in November, Somerset County Council still face further severe cuts in 2011, and challenging, because of this, we are forced to take even more tough decisions."

"The harsh settlement grant we recently received from central government has made our already dire financial situation worse. It took a few weeks to unravel the settlement’s full extent, but now it has become startlingly clear. Somerset County Council needs to make a further £20m in savings in the next financial year alone."

"But, we saw this blow coming and took early preventative measures. If we had not acted so soon, we would undoubtedly be facing even bigger cuts going forward into the New Year. We made efficiencies and we looked at new ways of working. We also took stock. We know what we stand for, we know what we do and we know what we can’t do. Should we keep a library open or spend the money looking after vulnerable children? Should we help the elderly or keep a recycling centre open?"

"However, the New Year is a time to look forward, and despite our financial deficit I have real optimism for Somerset County Council in 2011. I foresee an organisation that is smaller, leaner, but also dynamic, robust and ambitious with the drive and purpose to succeed."

"So, what can the people of Somerset expect next year? We are relentlessly driving to bring down Somerset’s debt and we have frozen Council Tax for yet another year."

"Admittedly, some services people have come to expect from us we can no longer afford to do but Somerset will still continue to be a wonderful place to work, live and visit."

"New businesses are starting up in the County all the time and we are working hard on the proposed new power station at Hinkley Point to provide thousands of new jobs for local people. Also, new major roads and a new bridge will ease traffic congestion in Taunton whilst three new schools are under construction in Bridgwater. Standards across our schools are improving (up by five percent from last year) and our adult social care is amongst the best in the country."

"So, although 2011 is going to a tough year, I know by working together and sharing the burden, we can reap the rewards, together."


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