Somerset’s Lib Dem county councillors have called on the chair of Somerset County Council to hold an extraordinary meeting to explain the Conservatives’ emergency budget in more detail and ensure that it is sufficiently robust to prevent Government officials stepping in and shutting down the County Council.
“The fact that the annual budget set in February – complete with £11 million of cuts – has clearly failed to plug the gaps and they are now on another £11 million round of cuts, should be a flashing warning sign to everyone that the cabal of eight Conservative Councillors making these decisions is financially incompetent,” says Jane Lock, Lib Dem councillor and Opposition Leader.
“On top of that £5 million of previously unacknowledged overspend has come out of the woodwork. And we still haven’t had a satisfactory answer on why another £4.9 million extra payment has been handed to an outside contractor for care services.
“Looking at the latest statement, it appears that over £7 million of unrecorded overspend was shunted forward into this year’s budget.
“For a party that prides itself on its financial acumen, they are not very good at arithmetic. We have no confidence that the latest painful cuts to essential services will deliver the savings required to save the County from bankruptcy.
“Bringing officers and Councillors together at an extraordinary meeting to explain how they have reached this point, and where Somerset goes from here, is essential.
“If this latest budget does not deliver the savings the Tories are touting, it will lead to the catastrophic situation where the Government sends in the commissioners to run our local affairs from Westminster.”