Sixty jobs to go as council faces massive budget cuts
MASSIVE cuts are on the cards at Somerset County Council as it revealed this week it needs to make savings of £30 million from next year's budget.
The authority faces a shortfall of £106 million over the next four years.
Cuts, including hiving off the museums from county council control, and increased charges, including putting up the cost of getting married, are planned.
The council also revealed that 60 jobs will go and a further 300 will be transferred to trust or social enterprises which will be running some of the services that have been traditionally administered by the county council.
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The idea is to move heritage services, including museums, to a not-for-profit trust status which should help raise extra funding from outside.
It is also proposed to turn Somerset Skills and Learning into a social enterprise business.
Other plans that will be debated by the council's cabinet next month are:
Cuts in the number of community recycling sites – the Somerset Waste Partnership will be asked to make savings which could result in poorly used sites closing. It is hoped that a restructure of services could see some of the busiest recycling centres returning to seven days a week opening.
Reduced spending on rights of way, canal paths and areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONB). A further proposal could see the removal of roles in the countryside, ecology, and associated teams.
Cuts on highways maintenance including verge cutting, drainage, hedge trimming and weed control and reducing management costs.
The council also wants to invest in other projects which could save money including increasing the number of walk to school routes so cutting the need for some bus trips.
It is also suggesting:
Replacing existing street lights with LED lamps giving a saving of around £300,000 per year every year.
Changing the way the learning disabilities service operates to place people in more modern and pleasant buildings and removing the need to pay for unused or empty beds, and freeing up some buildings to be sold off.
Further comprehensive savings proposals to close the financial deficit will be discussed in January and February as the council sets its annual budget.
Leader Councillor John Osman said: "I appeal to the public to take part in consultations and in our balancing act exercise through the council's website and Facebook, and to continue to give us vital feedback and comment as we look to face up to a very challenging financial outlook."