Ambitious plans for the future approved

Today Somerset County Council’s Full Council approved an ambitious vision for the county and ground-breaking plans for devolution.

The vast majority of councillors agreed that the vision for Somerset is excellent news for the county. The vision looks to put the authority at the heart of work to create a Somerset University, new business parks, a ‘garden town’ and new energy initiatives.

Councillors also agreed to support the devolution plan that aims to maximise investment and boost productivity in the south west. The plan aims to create better-paid jobs, improved road, rail and broadband links and more homes for the region’s growing population.

Leader of Somerset County Council, Cllr John Osman, said: “I was proud to present the vision and devolution at Full Council and I am very pleased that councillors have supported the plans for the future.

“We are stronger together and we can achieve great things together. That is why our devolution plan is so important. It has the potential to maximise investment in the area and bring great prosperity to the south west.

“The devolution plan and the vision are ambitious, but they are also vital to the future of the county. We need a university to keep young people in Somerset, we need a garden town to provide much needed homes and we need business parks and energy initiatives to boost our local economy and create jobs.”

Full Council also agreed budget proposals for 2016/17 that set around £8m of savings and capital investment of £75m in roads, schools and economic development.  As well as an increase in Council Tax – 2 per cent ring-fenced for Adult Social Care, 1.99 per cent for other essential services and a further 1.25 per cent on behalf of the Somerset Rivers Authority to help fund its vital flood protection work.

Cllr Osman continued: “Balancing the budget has not been an easy task and we have had to make some really difficult decisions. We’ve had to prioritise the essentials and propose a number of savings that we prefer not to have taken.

“Last week we received an extra £2.9m from government. We are thankful for this money, which we will invest in key front line services, highways and to replenish our decreasing reserves, but it is not enough. We will continue to campaign government for fairer funding for our county.”

You can find a copy of the Full Council papers, including details of devolution, the vision, proposals for savings, capital investment and the Council Tax here: http://www1.somerset.gov.uk/council/meetings/results.asp?ccode=1