February 9, 2015
County Council reconsiders its cost-cutting plans after £600k windfall

Fresh hopes have been raised this week that a Burnham-On-Sea bus service could be saved after Somerset County Council said it has received a £600,000 Government cash windfall which will enable it to review some of its cost-cutting proposals.

The County Council first announced last November that it plans to withdraw the 102 bus service which runs from Bridgwater to Weston-super-Mare via Burnham, Highbridge, Brent Knoll, East Huntspill and East Brent, as part of a savings exercise. Its public consultation on the plans closed last month.

The cost cutting plans are due to be considered by the council's Cabinet today (Monday), however the council has said that it is reconsidering some of its cost-cutting proposals after Somerset was named by the government as one of several authorities getting an unexpected share of £74m for local welfare and social care.

The cash will be used to review some of the proposed bus route closures and could see the removal of a proposed cut to some homeless support services from this year’s budget plans.

The review of savings in light of the extra funding will be considered at today’s meeting of the County Council’s Cabinet.

"It is very welcome and comes at a time when we are looking at dealing with a £21m cut in government funding," said Council Leader John Osman.

"I am delighted we are now able to review some of our proposed savings, but I will continue the fight for more funding to protect our frontline services."

Cllr Osman highlighted proposed savings now being reviewed, including funding to help prevent people becoming homeless – known as Pathway 4 Adults - and £90k in public subsidies for seven Saturday bus routes.

"We have listened to the many concerns expressed about Pathway 4 Adults and how the proposals would have an impact on other councils and partners. However, the longer-term the solution is not entirely in the hands of the County Council which has no statutory responsibility to provide this support."

"We will be hosting further meetings with councils and partners to discuss how they can help us make savings in this service and what contributions they will make which needed for this support to continue."

"I’m also delighted that after our extensive consultation, we are able to consider continuing to subsidise some of our local Saturday bus routes. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that Somerset is under-funded by government and the gap between our funding and services that residents want us to provide is growing each year."

The County Council’s 2015/16 budget will be considered by Cabinet today (Monday 9th February) and then by the Full Council on 18th February.

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