Somerset County Council

Election 2017 Results

CON HOLD
Party Seats 2013 Seats 2017 Change

PartyConservative

Seats 201329 Seats 201735 Change+6

PartyLiberal Democrat

Seats 201318 Seats 201712 Change−6

PartyLabour

Seats 20133 Seats 20173 Change-

PartyIndependent

Seats 20132 Seats 20173 Change+1

PartyGreen

Seats 20130 Seats 20172 Change+2

PartyUKIP

Seats 20133 Seats 2017- Change−3
Change compared with

Latest updates

Most recent

Residents blame Hinkley for HGV traffic increase

Hinkley Point
PA

Somerset County Council is facing calls to crack down on the number of lorries driving on narrow roads through Glastonbury.

A group of residents says HGVs using the A361 through the town, particularly a stretch by the foot of Glastonbury Tor, is a recipe for disaster, and that things have got worse due to vehicles heading towards Hinkley Point C.

Last week residents held a meeting calling for the road to be taken off the council's official freight network.

Somerset County Council running out of money

Somerset County Council could, in effect, be bankrupt within three years, according to a report by independent auditors who say budget failures pervade the authority and money is running out.

Staff could be asked to take unpaid leave to help solve the financial crisis.

Following a meeting on Thursday morning to discuss the report,Councillor Mandy Chilcott, cabinet member for resources, said: "We are doing what needs to be done, but let’s be absolutely clear that our finances are under really significant pressures and there will be difficult decisions ahead."

Mrs Chilcott said the council had made "around £130m" of savings over the last seven years.

She said: "But you cannot effectively lose around a third of your budget without there being impacts, though we will do everything we can to keep those impacts to a minimum."

Somerset County Hall
Google

What is the way forward for Somerset's financial woes?

Paul Barltrop

Political Editor, West of England

County Hall
Google

Somerset County Council is reckoned to be in a worse financial situation than any other council in the West of England.

The council has a projected overspend of £12m until the end of March 2019.

The impending crisis was underlined by the resignations of two councillors who led Somerset’s audit committee, yesterday.

They disagreed with the approach of the conservative administration, which has had to find £130m in savings, as its government funding has fallen.

More cuts are coming, with libraries and children’s services particularly under pressure.

Somerset’s leader advocates a radical streamlining of local government in the county, replacing two tiers of councils with just one, which would bring big savings.

That is what next-door Wiltshire did a decade ago, putting them on a much surer financial footing.

Somerset also proposed becoming a unitary authority then, but the idea was opposed by the district councils.

Getting agreement now won’t be easy, and realising the savings that could follow would take years - time the county does not have.

'Consultants' hired to clear Somerset planning backlog

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Kate Wilson

Somerset County Council has hired a team of specialists to help with a backlog of more than 100 planning applications at an undisclosed cost to taxpayers.

The authority says the planning department has been struggling over recent years to keep up with demand with fewer resources, as well as retaining experienced staff.

Currently there is a backlog of around 140 applications, so in an attempt to deal with the backlog the council has hired a firm of specialist consultants to deliver decisions on many of the applications that are currently being held up.

Somerset County Council
Google

Somerset nursery places boosted by government funding

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Daniel Mumby

Nursery school child
PA

Almost £1.3m has been spent on Somerset nurseries so that parents and carers can claim funded childcare.

Since September 2017, working parents with three or four-year-old children have been eligible for 30 hours of free childcare.

Somerset County Council successfully bid for funding from central government to improve nursery provision in the county.

Five out of six projects have been completed, but £285,000 in funds had to be returned after a sixth project decided not to convert a wing at a former hospital in Bridgwater into a new nursery for 32 children.

Councillors have, however, raised concerns about the charges some of the private nurseries are demanding, for "supplies" including "sun-cream, food, nappies or other such items".

Charlotte Wilson, the council’s service manager for early years commissioning, said: “Parents have to shop around to suit their needs. The funding rate is not enough, and we would encourage people to lobby the government for a higher rate.”

Somerset council finances 'unacceptable'

Somerset County Council
Google

The leader of Somerset County Council has described the authority’s financial situation as “unacceptable” after it overspent by more than £2m in the past year.

David Fothergill made the comment at a cabinet meeting in Taunton when the council’s end-of-year financial reports were discussed.

He clarified the position was better than had been predicted earlier in the financial year, and praised the work of council staff to turn this around, stating that the council was “not heading towards the iceberg”.

However, he warned more changes would be needed going forward – particularly to the funding of children’s services.

Student bus fare to rise by more than inflation

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Buses - generic image
BBC

Students wishing to travel for further education in Somerset will have to stump up a further £100 a year for the privilege.

Somerset County Council will be raising the price of its ‘County Ticket’; an annual ticket which allows people in further education, including those with special educational needs, to travel across the county.

The cost of the ticket for the 2018/19 academic year will rise from £695 to £795 – above the current rate of inflation within the transport sector.

The council had considered raising the price higher still, to £845 per year, to make the scheme more sustainable in the long-term.

Somerset County Council issue care plan apology

Somerset County Hall
BBC

Somerset County Council has apologised to any families who are still waiting for updated care plans for children with special needs and disabilities.

It comes as one family in Frome say they've faced an eight month wait for a plan for their severely disabled 19-year-old daughter.

The government says all such plans should be completed within 20 weeks.