Budget balancing events head to Bridgwater and the Mid-Somerset Show

It’s a busy weekend for Somerset County Council’s public engagement events as it visits Bridgwater on Saturday 20 August and Shepton Mallet on Sunday 21 August.

It will be seeking residents’ views in Bridgwater Town Centre on Fore Street on Saturday, between 11am and 4pm. Then it will be moving swiftly onto the Mid-Somerset Show on Sunday, between 8am and 6pm.

At both events residents are invited to use a giant set of scales to try and balance the Council’s budget, show their priorities by dropping coins into ‘think tanks’ and complete a short questionnaire about some key issues and opportunities. The same questionnaire is also available online at www.somerset.gov.uk/listening

This is the fourth year the authority has run the events and the roadshow is visiting 11 towns across the county throughout the summer. This year’s events take place as the council looks ambitiously to the future while facing up to the challenges of rising demand and falling funding.

“We’ve met more than 4,500 people so far at our events, since they started at the end of May, and I’m delighted that so many people have taken the time to share their views with us”, said Councillor John Osman, Leader of Somerset County Council.

“With initiatives like our push for Devolution and Our Vision for Somerset, we have ambitious plans for the future. However, we also have a major budget gap to close because of the big reductions in funding from central Government and increasing costly demand for our services.

“We estimate we need to make savings of around £15m from our budget next year,” said Cllr Osman. “That means difficult decisions and we want to speak to as many people as possible to get some idea of their priorities and views to help inform those decisions.”

Central Government funding for the County Council fell by £15m last year and is due to fall by a further £40m by 2019/2020. At the same time, demand for the authority’s services, particularly more complex and expensive Adult Social Care, is increasing as Somerset’s population ages. 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 Bridgwater, the Listening, Learning, Changing roadshows will be finishing up in Shepton Mallet and Wellington. Representatives from the Council will be on hand to answer questions and fun activities will be available to keep children entertained. The full details of the remaining events are as follows:

Date Location Event Timings
Saturday, 20 August Bridgwater Bridgwater Town Centre 11am – 4pm
Sunday, 21 August Shepton Mallet Mid Somerset Show 8am – 6pm
Saturday, 3 September Wellington Wellington Food Festival 10am – 4pm