Two years ago, almost £10m of local taxpayer funds were wasted on redundancies and consultants’ fees when the Conservative Government and council leaders forced through a merger of West Somerset and Taunton Deane councils - something only 114 out of 135,000 residents supported in a survey - there wasn’t even a public vote on the decision.
Now Somerset County Council faces financial disaster its Conservative leaders have published a plan to spend £16.5Million of your money abolishing our local Somerset West and Taunton District Council, (which has only just been set up) and four others, and create a very unequal 70mile-wide monster council instead.
Already, under their control:
- vital services for disabled children have been run down and branded areas of “significant weakness” and “dysfunctional” by official inspectors, badly letting down local families;
- bus services were cut and their threat to close Taunton’s Park and Ride had to be stopped by our local level District Council – which extended services to Saturdays, and
- day centres have been closed down, people’s care payments have been unlawfully cut and other services and jobs slashed by almost £30M in the last two years.
Takeover from a county that’s strapped for cash would put at risk not just services but hundreds of public sector jobs, hitting our economy at the worst time. And the 5,800 Council houses we are fortunate to hold onto – so many Conservative administrations have sold them off.
Somerset is a vast and diverse place, each area has its own needs, a one size fits all approach won’t work. We therefore petition Somerset County Council and the Government to:
- halt the £16.5Million of taxpayers’ money already being spent on promotion and public relations;
- save our council houses and local services and focus instead on fighting the pandemic, and
- after the pandemic, hold a local referendum vote for the public on all the options, including abolishing the County Council, and abide by the result.
Sign below to save our services and say “No” to a £16Million council takeover!