Council executive promises not to cut frontline services

PUBLISHED: 16:03 25 October 2019

Weston Town Hall. Picture: Mark Atherton

Weston Town Hall. Picture: Mark Atherton

Archant

No frontline services will be cut by North Somerset Council next year, its executive has promised.

Cllr Don Davies.Cllr Don Davies.

Council leader Donald Davies accused the Government of being 'cowardly' by cutting money given to councils, as he warned tax bills will almost certainly rise from April.

And his executive member for finance, Ashley Cartman, sought to reassure the public that a slashing of key services will not take place.

He said at the executive's meeting on October 23: "Government has effectively set councils up to fail. It's a chaotic and unpredictable environment.

"The message that austerity is over is simply not true. Our ability to raise income falls far short of our costs.

"Three things will make this council different from its predecessor.

"We will stop all cuts to frontline services.

"Reflecting our new vision to be fairer, greener and more open, we will be directing extra resources to our priorities, like tackling climate change.

"We will be more transparent. The budget will be provided much earlier than in previous years."

Mr Cartman said council tax was likely to rise by 1.99 per cent in April, with a further two per cent increase that would be ring-fenced for adult social care, as in recent years.

Chancellor Sajid Javid is consulting on this extra funding so it is not yet confirmed. A General Election in the coming weeks would also likely delay a decision.

Cllr Davies said North Somerset could not put council tax up any more without holding a referendum, and the vote would cost more than it raised.

He said: "It's called screwing local government because central government is too cowardly to implement austerity itself."

He also accused the previous Conservative administration of costing the council £250,000 by not putting up tax by the maximum amount.

Former leader Nigel Ashton has said his administration tried to keep tax rates as low as possible for the good of the public.

Cllr Davies, as leader of the opposition before May's election, did not table an alternative budget ahead of the 2019-20 spending being set, saying he did not have confidence the Conservatives in power at the time would listen.

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