Somerset County Council is today setting out a manifesto for what it wants Westminster to help deliver for the County.
A fairer funding settlement and progress on major infrastructure projects are among the items on the ‘What Somerset Wants’ agenda that the County Council Leader, John Osman, has been is raising with Somerset MPs.
The May election produced four new MPs in the County and Cllr Osman is in the process of meeting each of them to make sure all MPs representing the County have a clear understanding of what the County Council wants their help to deliver.
“It is vitally important that Somerset gets a fair deal from central Government and our MPs will be a crucial part of that. I am keen to work with them and with Westminster to make progress in some key areas and it is essential that we speak as one in best interests of Somerset.”
The key things on the ‘What Somerset Wants’ manifesto include:
• Fairer funding – a review of the local authority funding formula so that it better recognises the underfunding of rural counties. (Somerset is ranked 113 out of 152 top tier authorities in terms of funding per person).
• Fairer Funding for schools – a better deal for Somerset’s pupils under the Designated School Grant (Somerset is currently ranked 121 out of 151 local authorities).
• Delivery of the dualling and improvements to the A303 and A358 – key to economic growth in the South West as a whole.
• Devolution – of more decision-making powers to the local level.
• Progress on the Hinkley Point C development – with the associated investment and jobs for the county.
• A long-term funding solution for the Somerset Rivers Authority – interim funding has been granted until the end of March 2016.
• Superfast Broadband – funding to the Connecting Devon and Somerset project to bring broadband to 100% of communities.
Cllr Osman said: “We have long been campaigning for fairer funding and that continues – I would urge everyone to sign our online petition on the subject http://fairerfundingforsomerset.org/
“But there are other key pieces of the Somerset jigsaw that need to be in place if the county is to continue to prosper. They need the support of central Government to really move forwards and I am determined to do everything I can to get that support.”