The Liberal Democrats have launched their 2017 County Council Manifesto at County Hall today (Saturday 25 March).
Cllr Jane Lock and the Liberal Democrat team were joined by Paddy Ashdown who helped unveil their policy proposals if elected to run the County Council this May.
Cllr Jane Lock, Somerset County Liberal Democrat Group Leader, passionately made the case for change:
“The Liberal Democrats have seen the Conservatives destroy services at County Hall by squandering your tax payers’ money.”
“We have a clear plan on how we can turn this situation around, by investing in Somerset and providing excellent local services.”
“Somerset shouldn’t have to put up with another four years of Conservative mismanagement – they deserve better and the Liberal Democrats are ready to take over.”
“Somerset needs solutions that are made by local people for local people – we have had enough of the Conservatives deciding what is best behind closed doors.”
Today the Tory Cabinet at Somerset County Council failed to take the opportunity to rethink its decision to transfer Learning Disabilities services to Dimensions UK Ltd.
The Conservative run administration is attempting to flog off yet another 4 County Farms, from the dwindling County Farm Estate.
This is being done to prop up the dire situation on their overspending Revenue budget and to help other capital projects.
Sam Crabb. Shadow Cabinet spokesperson for Resources said “There are so few farms left now – that this represents more than 10% of the County Farm estate left owned by the County Council. With so few opportunities for young farmers in Somerset to rent this is a real blow. The Tories should not be selling off the crown jewels to prop up their financial mismanagement.”
“The County Councils finances are in a dire situation.”
The Conservative Cabinet running Somerset County Council have been discussing the possibility of declaring the Authority bankrupt. In the Revenue Outturn report the County Finance Director has informed the Cabinet that he may have to invoke Section 114 – which will mean that they have to bring in immediate savings to rectify the dire financial situation. The Government would also be advised that the County Council may not be able to pay all its bills!
Leader of the Opposition on Somerset County Council Jane Lock is calling for the Tory administration to change their minds on the devastating £300000 cut to public transport.
Jane said "the most harmful part of that decision means that carers can no longer travel along with those they support without paying, the only authority in the South West to do so. For those who are visually impaired it is particularly harsh, in a rural county like ours we should be making life easier for people with disabilities not tougher. The Government gave Somerset an extra £2.9 million to be spent on services, instead it has been stuffed into reserves."
Jane Lock, leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Somerset County Council said :-
“The Conservatives who are reducing Somerset County Council to meltdown have imposed not one, not two, but THREE double whammies on the residents of Somerset in their budget.
Liberal Democrat County Leader Jane Lock has discovered that the Tory run Somerset County Council is paying over £1 million a month for Agency staff: Jane said:
"It is no wonder that the Tories have such trouble trying to balance the annual budget, whilst paying out over £1 million a month for Agency Social workers. This means that we are paying at least £6 million more a year than we should be paying if we were able to recruit full time staff"
Liberal Democrat Sam Crabb, County Shadow Resources Cabinet Member asks the key question:
"With an extra grant of £2.9 million for Somerset for the year 2016-2017. How do you think that money should be used?"
"It is likely that the Tory Administration will be tempted to reduce the impact of the rise in Council Tax, from 5.24% to perhaps 3.25%, however that would mean that all the cuts they are proposing to Full Council next Wednesday will go through. They have the opportunity to reduce the impact of dire cuts to front line services instead."
Liberal Democrat Sam Crabb, County Shadow Resources Cabinet Member reports:
"The Government will announce today a new "Transition Grant" to help the Councils worse affected by the recent changes to the calculation of the Revenue Support Grant. This includes a grant of £2.9 million for Somerset for the year 2016-2017 and a smaller grant for the year 2017-2018 of £1.9 million."
The Somerset Liberal Democrat Chairs organised a very successful mini conference on Saturday 5th September and it was held at an excellent venue – The Taunton Academy in Wellspring Road, Taunton.