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Issue 309 – Axe could fall on council jobs and services

A bleak warning about future jobs and services at Somerset County Council was issued recently.

Council leader Ken Maddock predicted that after expected cuts in government grants, the gap in income and spending at the authority could reach £75m over the next few years.
Cllr Maddock warned that around 1,500 posts could go at the authority over three years and that some services would have to be cut.

He said many of these posts would come from a major voluntary redundancy exercise currently underway and from a recruitment freeze that has so far delivered savings of more than £1.5m. But he confirmed there would be some compulsory redundancies. He said, “This is sad, but we will try to keep these to the minimum level. Inevitably there will be pain as a result of the decisions we have to take.”
But in a County Hall press conference Cllr Maddock unveiled a series of measures to help residents and businesses – starting with an announcement that he intended to see through a zero per cent council tax increase for next year.
Cllr Maddock said, “These are tough times for everyone and it’s important that the council does not increase the financial burden on the resident.”
And he also announced a new initiative to use millions of pounds of council-owned business space to boost the local economy. A private company will operate around 70 industrial units offering support to new firms, including some start-up costs, business advice and mentoring.
Cllr Maddock added, “For the first time we will stop acting as just landlords and instead ask a private firm to run end-to-end support to attract businesses into Somerset and importantly to help people in Somerset with their own great ideas to turn them into new start-up companies.”
Cllr Maddock gave details of a review of the council’s £40m valued county farms. He revealed details of the review which suggested that around a third of the farms would stay within the council’s ownership. And he also revealed that talks were underway with a major farming concern to see if there was interest in buying a number of the remaining farms.