Somerset

Somerset County Council proposes 130 redundancies and cuts

Somerset County Council headquarters at County Hall in Taunton Image copyright Google
Image caption Somerset County Council is struggling to balance its budget

A council has proposed cutting more than 100 jobs and major services so it can balance its books.

Somerset County Council has begun a consultation on 130 redundancies and is proposing cutbacks to highways, public transport and special needs services.

The authority needed to save £19.5m in 2017/18, but only made cuts of £11.1m.

In an email to staff, the council's chief executive said the latest cuts were being considered due to severe financial pressures.

Council leader David Fothergill said the authority had been open about its "huge" financial challenge and would formally consult with trade unions about the redundancies.

"The coming weeks will be very difficult for the council and its staff, but we have to achieve financial stability," he said.

Liberal Democrat councillor Neil Bloomfield said Somerset was going the same way as Northamptonshire County Council, which is facing a funding shortfall of about £70m and has banned all new spending this year.

'A ruthless process'

He said: "If Somerset were to issue a 114 notice and the government appointed special commissioners, the desire would be to create their vision of a unitary authority and then you lose control of your own, local, decision making.

"The commissioners' job is to save money and bring you back on budget. It's a ruthless process."

In an email sent to staff, chief executive Pat Flaherty said severe financial pressures meant the council was considering a "reduction in services and changes to staffing structures".

Other ideas for savings include cutting funds to services for children and support for vulnerable pupils.

More details on the proposals will be announced next week.

The authority said it was trying to balance its books after eight years of central government cuts.

A final decision will be made by the cabinet on 12 September, Mr Flaherty said.

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