Somerset County Council approves £43m of budget cuts

Protesters outside County Hall Unison called on councillors to spend time thinking about the cuts

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A meeting has voted through £43m of cuts at Somerset County Council.

The resolution went through with a majority of seven, with 30 Conservatives supporting and 21 Liberal Democrat and two Labour members against.

Opening the meeting, chief executive Sheila Wheeler said the cuts were "step one in a long and arduous journey".

Plans to save money include stopping resurfacing roads, youth clubs, bus subsidies and arts groups.

'Vulnerable protected'

The cutbacks were opposed by the union Unison, which said that it hoped councillors would think again and spend a few more weeks considering the plans.

"We would remind them that you are here for Somerset not for Whitehall," a spokesman said.

Ms Wheeler told the meeting she was very proud of all staff who had helped ensure the "vulnerable are protected".

Leader Ken Maddock said officers should also examine South West One's contract - its partnership with IBM to outsource back office jobs - to identify potential savings.

The Conservative-controlled council leader was greeted by boos and chants from some 100 protesters as he arrived at Shire Hall for the meeting.

Speaking of South West One's contract, Mr Maddock instructed officers to look at how the contract could change to meet the needs and future shape of the council and said one of the key areas of savings identified was through contracts with suppliers.

The meeting also heard the first four recycling centres that would be looked at for closure are Dulverton, Crewkerne, Coleford and Middlezoy.

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