Council agrees cuts of £43m

PUBLISHED: 16:00 12 November 2010

Archant

SOMERSET County Council has rubber-stamped cuts of more than £43million this week - but warned further budget slashes would be needed before the authority can balance its books.

The council debated for six hours on the cuts, ranging from reducing arts grants and bus subsidies by half, cutting back on youth services by three quarters and axing 10 police community support officers.

Sheila Wheeler, chief executive, told the meeting on Wednesday: “We are in unprecedented times.

“Councillors today are having to make the biggest series of savings for a generation.

“This is very difficult and councillors are facing decisions that no-one wants to make but the council’s budget had to be balanced.”

She warned that even after the £43.6million cuts, the authority still faces a black hole in its finances of up to £30million.

Councillor Ken Maddock, council leader, said: “Never has a full council been so difficult or so challenging.

“We were given a difficult task to reduce the deficit and balance the books and today saw us take a step in the right direction.

“However, I stress that it isn’t over yet. We still have a long way to go and further hard decisions will have to be taken.”

The authority agreed at the meeting to carry out public consultations over plans to make ‘significant’ cuts in the library service.

And consultations will also be carried out with care providers and vulnerable people about a proposal to change the level of need required before the council will provide care.

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