Somerset

Taunton Deane Borough Council discusses future finances

A Somerset council could hand over or sell its assets as part of a range of measures to save money.

Councillors at the Conservative-led Taunton Deane Borough Council are meeting later to discuss its future financial strategy.

A cut of 11% is expected to be made to next year's budget, after a cut of 13% was made for the 2010-11 budget.

The Liberal Democrats have said they are concerned about the plans, which also involve raising fees and charges.

Assets such as parks, public toilets and football pitches could be sold on to or run by community groups or parish councils, but no budget would be available to pay for running costs.

'It's a disaster'

Ross Henley, the leader of the Lib Dem opposition at the council, said: "I am concerned about plans by the Conservative-run council to raise fees and charges and to consider transfer assets and services to parish councils and community groups.

"We have already seen the Conservative-run county council try this with libraries and its a disaster."

A Somerset County Council spokesman said: "We have worked very closely with the communities and out of six libraries that were earmarked for closure, the community has now stepped in to keep five running.

"We are now awaiting the outcome of a judicial review next month. There is no way that this can be seen as a disaster."

The borough council has said it wants to "take a strategic approach to its finances rather than salami-slicing the budget year after year".

The review will also look at cutting staff benefits, which include parking, car loans, and the Cycle Saver Scheme.

Councillors will only be asked which changes they prefer but no final decisions will be made at the meeting.

Over the next four years, about 40% is expected to be cut from the council's budget by the government.

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