Somerset

Somerset County Council is 'running out of money'

Somerset County Council offices
Image caption Selling County Hall is being looked at as an option

The councillor in charge of Somerset County Council's finances has said it may run out of money by the end of the year unless it sells some assets.

Conservative David Huxtable said the council's debts had quadrupled from £100m in 2001 to £400m this year.

He said he would consider selling off things including county farms and County Hall in Taunton.

Liberal Democrat leader Jill Shortland said assets should not be sold to prop up revenue budgets.

She said: "You're not going to get anywhere by selling assets - you can only sell things once.

"Their budgeting and bad suggestions such as spending £300,000 on a new cabinet office have contributed to the debt."

The Tories took control of the council in 2009 with a policy of having increases of 0% in council tax each year.

Mr Huxtable said: "We've said we're not going to borrow any more money so we've got to raise as much money as we possibly can otherwise we will simply run out of cash and we will not be able to repair the roads or build new schools."

But Ms Shortland said when the Lib Dems were in control, they had high scores from the Audit Commission.

"It's what decisions you make in order to get to a 0% increase in council tax," she said.

"Their short-term gain decisions could mean we've got long-term pain."

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