West Somerset councillors should 'resign in protest'

Minehead West Somerset Council covers from Minehead to Exmoor

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A West Somerset district councillor has said all members of the council should resign in protest at government cuts.

Sandra Slade, an independent, said "the only way to make the council's plight clear" was if 31 councillors resigned.

West Somerset, an Independent and Conservative coalition, is the smallest district council in the country. It faces a 9% cut in spending power.

Leader Tim Taylor, a Conservative, said resigning would be a negation of responsibility and urged caution.

Ms Slade said: "Let's say enough is enough and we won't do this to our community and our employees.

"This is not throwing in the towel - it's making a stand. Let's say to government if you think you can run this council on this funding, then you do it.

"I am fed up with being pushed and pushed to get rid of staff, put extra burdens on our existing staff and cut services for our residents."

'Real frustration'

West Somerset Council is the smallest district council in the country by population but one of the largest geographically.

Mr Taylor said: "I understand her real frustration on this. The government cuts are twice the size we expected but I do advise caution.

"We do not want to have mass resignations as we do not know where they'll lead."

He said residents might not like the consequences of a mass resignation by councillors.

"It [the government] could put in its own team to run the council, could ask another council to look after it or could split the council.

"It's dialogue we're after so the government understands the real difficulty of running this small council," he added.

A meeting between the authority and the government is expected to be held within the next two weeks.

The Department for Communities and Local Government said: "We have made sure that extra money, powers and funding freedoms are available to protect front line services and the public from council tax rises offering real help to hard working families and pensioners.

"This was a tough but fair settlement ensuring the most vulnerable communities were protected."

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