TACKLING HOMELESSNESS AND CLIMATE PRIORITIES IN SWT'S FIRST BUDGET


Last Wednesday (Feb 19th), Somerset West & Taunton passed their first budget since the Liberal Democrat administration took control in May last year. There were problems from the off when the new merged council came into being in April last year with IT systems not ready, insufficient staff in place, and redundancy costs resulting from the Conservative council mismanagement spiralling out of control. This was on the back of continued decreasing financial support from Central Government.

Last Wednesday (Feb 19th), Somerset West & Taunton passed their first budget since the Liberal Democrat administration took control in May last year. There were problems from the off when the new merged council came into being in April last year with IT systems not ready, insufficient staff in place, and redundancy costs resulting from the Conservative council mismanagement spiralling out of control. This was on the back of continued decreasing financial support from Central Government.

Despite all this, the new Lib Dem administration has succeeded in putting together a balanced and innovative budget, which was passed by a full council meeting last week.

Here are a few highlights:

  • £380K TO THE VOLUNTARY ORGANISATIONS THROUGH GRANTS AND COMMISSIONED SERVICES, INCLUDING EXTRA ONE-OFF FUNDING TO THE CITIZENS ADVICE BUREAU.

  • INVESTING MORE THAN £1.9M TO SUPPORT AND REDUCE HOMELESSNESS – INCLUDING A RECENTLY CONFIRMED SUCCESSFUL BID FOR £290K IN GRANT FUNDING FOR AS PART OF THE “ROUGH SLEEPERS INITIATIVE”.

  • CONTINUING THE CORE GRANT OF £132K TO THE BREWHOUSE, AS WELL AS DIRECT LANDLORD INVESTMENT IN THE PREMISES.

  • INVESTING IN NEW INDUSTRY SITE AT SEAWARD WAY, MINEHEAD

  • PUTTING IN £2.4M TO RETAIN STAFFING LEVELS TO ENSURE WE CAN CONTINUE TO DELIVER AND IMPROVE THE WIDE VARIETY OF SERVICES PROVIDED BY THE COUNCIL – PROTECTING VITAL LOCAL SERVICES (MAINTAINING PARKS AND OPEN SPACES, KEEPING STREETS CLEAN, ETC).

  • AN EXTRA £40K TO DO MORE TO KEEP OUR LARGER TOWNS CLEAN AND TIDY.

  • £43K FOR DREDGING WATCHET HARBOUR, AS WELL AS £740K TO REPAIR THE HARBOUR WALL AND CAPITAL INVESTMENT TO REPAIR THE STORM DAMAGE AT SPLASH POINT.

One of the most important Liberal Democrat commitments was to fight Climate Change if they took control of SWT. The Administration have committed £75K this year to help related projects move forward whilst there are currently £10m worth of climate change related projects going on including:

  • £230K SUBSIDY TO ENABLE THE PARK AND RIDE SERVICES IN TAUNTON TO CONTINUE – AND WE WILL WORK WITH THE COUNTY COUNCIL AND BUS SERVICE PROVIDERS TO IMPROVE THE SERVICE IN FUTURE.

  • COMMITMENT TO PURCHASING LAND TO HELP INCREASE TREE PLANTING.

  • £6M FOR FLOOD ALLEVIATION AND MITIGATION SCHEMES.

  • £1.5M CONTRIBUTION TO CYCLE AND PEDESTRIAN INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS ENCOURAGING BETTER HEALTH AND WELLBEING AS WELL AS ALTERNATIVES TO OTHER TRANSPORT MODES.

  • £2M CONTRIBUTION TO PUBLIC TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS.

  • £45M REGENERATION IN NORTH TAUNTON REPLACING POOR PERFORMING HOUSING STOCK WITH NEW, ENERGY EFFICIENT PROPERTIES, AS WELL AS £6M TOWARDS OTHER EXISTING HOUSING STOCK TO HELP WITH THERMAL EFFICIENCY.

The Council is also taking steps towards reducing its own carbon footprint from switching to a renewable energy provider to exploring replacing its vehicle fleet with electric cars.

There are also a number exciting projects afoot including the commencing of Firepool this year,as well as long term projects such as the pedestrianisation of Taunton, a new tourist attraction in West Somerset, and progress on finally restoring a train station to Wellington. Despite the economic challenges, SWT is on the path to recovery and there are a lot of positive projects ahead.


Share this post on social media:

Sign in with Facebook, Twitter or Email.