Somerset County Council’s public engagement events will be heading into Minehead and making an impact in Ilminster this week.
The ‘Listening Learning Changing’ roadshow is visiting 11 towns across the county this summer as the council looks to the future while facing the challenges of rising demand and falling funding.
It will be in Wellington Square in Minehead this Friday, 10 June, from 9am-4pm.
On Saturday, 11 June, it will be Ilminster’s turn when the stand joins in the Ilminster Midsummer Experience from 10am-1pm in the ‘Community Drive’ area of the event, at Greenfylde School just off Silver Street.
This is the fourth year the authority has run the events, asking people to try their hand at balancing its budget on a giant set of scales and seeking their views on its priorities and other key issues.
“We’ve had a fantastic turn-out at the two events we have visited so far,” said Councillor John Osman, Leader of Somerset County Council.
“These roadshows are about speaking to residents and getting their views on some of the key issues for the County Council. We’ve met to well over a 1,500 people already I’m sure we will see similar enthusiasm in Minehead and Ilminster.
“We are ambitious and looking positively to the long-term with initiatives like the Vision for Somerset. But once again huge reductions in funding from central Government and pressures caused by an ageing population mean we also have significant savings to make.”
Central Government funding for the County Council fell by £15m last year and is due to fall by a further £42m by 2019/2020. At the same time, demand for the authority’s services, particularly Adult Social Care, is increasing, driven largely by Somerset’s ageing population. In less than 20 years, people aged 65 and over will make up more than a quarter of the population in almost every part of the county.
After Ilminster, the roadshow will be visiting Frome later this month; Yeovil and Dunster in July; Taunton, Bridgwater and Shepton Mallet in August and Wellington in September.
Cllr Osman said: “We estimate that we need to make savings of around £15m next financial year. We have already saved roughly £120m over the last five years and it is very difficult to find further savings without hitting the services that we know residents value.
“I have worked hard to make this a council that listens and does its best to take people’s views into account when we are discussing these tough decisions.”
The full details of the events are as follows:
|Friday, 10 June||Minehead||Stand in Town Centre (Wellington Square)||9am – 4pm|
|Saturday, 11 June||Ilminster||Ilminster Midsummer Experience||10am – 1pm|
|Saturday, 18 June||Frome||Stand at Frome Market||9am – 1pm|
|Saturday 16 & Sunday 17 July||Yeovil||Yeovil Show, Yeovil Showground||9am – 6pm
|Wednesday, 27 July||Dunster||Dunster Country Fair||10am – 5pm|
|Friday, 5 August & Sunday 6 August||Taunton||Taunton Flower Show||10am – 6pm|
|Saturday, 20 August||Bridgwater||Stand at Bridgwater Market||9am – 2pm|
|Sunday, 21 August||Shepton Mallet||Mid Somerset Show||8am – 6pm|
|Saturday, 3 September||Wellington||Wellington Food Festival||10am – 4pm|
As well as the Balancing Act Scales scales, people can show their priorities by placing coins in our ‘Think Tanks’ and complete a short questionnaire. The same questionnaire will also soon be available online at www.somerset.gov.uk/listening
Representatives from the Council will be on hand to answer questions and fun activities will be available to keep children entertained.