Towns and parishes asked to foot county services

PUBLISHED: 16:00 05 November 2010

Town and parish councils have been asked if they would increase their precept by the county council

Town and parish councils have been asked if they would increase their precept by the county council

Archant

TOWN and parish councils in Somerset have been asked if they would increase their portion of the council tax bill to pay for services which the county council can't afford to run.

Sheila Wheeler, Somerset County Council’s chief executive, wrote to town and parish councils last week, in which she outlined how swingeing government cuts would affect the Conservative-run local authority.

She stated: “Although we will not have the final settlement figures until early December we are currently looking at proposals of £43million cuts with a further £30million savings anticipated over the next three years.

“We cannot continue to provide the range and level of services that we currently do.”

She added: “Where a service is considered to be a local priority, but is no longer able to be afforded across Somerset, it is hoped that parish and town councils might consider using their precepting powers to fund those services on a local level.”

Jill Shortland, Liberal Democrat county council opposition leader, said she was ‘appalled’ by the letter.

She added: “This is Tory cost shunting to parishes and towns who also have severe challenges in their budgets.”

Sam Crabb, shadow cabinet member for resources, has now called for Mrs Wheeler to send out details of the cuts to parish and town councils so they are ‘aware of the full situation’.

He said: “It cannot be right that the Tories on the county council are saying that there will be no increase in that part of the council tax - but calling on others to put up their council tax.”

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