Conservatives’ Leave Behind £7m Bill for Taxpayers

Local Lib Dems have reacted with shock to the cost of a Conservative merger project revealed this week in Taunton Deane Borough Council’s final year accounts. It’s been revealed that after planning to make 120 people redundant by automating services the previous Conservative administration failed to set any limit on the number who can take redundancy. As a result 190 people have taken redundancy and of the 250 services that were supposed to be offered online only 17 are available to the public. The new LibDem administration finds itself having to recruit to fill essential roles that were never truly redundant as they delivered essential services, like grass-cutting and deciding planning applications.

Commenting on this the new leader of Somerset West and Taunton Council, Federica Smith-Roberts, commented:

“This was done under the previous administration, under the Conservative guidance. I think that they do have a lot answer for. We challenged it along the way, and now that we’re here we now need to look forward though because we need to look at what we can do to make sure the residents across the whole district get services they want.”

Gideon Amos, the party’s Taunton Deane Parliamentary Spokesman said:

“This was mismanagement of epic proportions. While we flagged up the costs of this unwanted merger project as early as 2016, the redundancy bill our councillors have now uncovered, at around £7million, inherited from Conservative run Taunton Deane, is double what they originally budgeted and it’s going to take time to deal with. The Conservatives’ mistakes, alongside what the Local Government Association report as an unprecedented 77% reduction in Council funding since 2015, together represent a far bigger cut than anything seen in the past. Our new LibDem councillors are only now getting sight of the details and discovering the full scale of how, by following their ‘private good, public bad’ ideology, the local Conservative administration compounded this crisis with a catalogue of financial errors ending in a bill of £6.6Million for a project that saw valuable staff lost from the Council and which the public had never supported”.

He added “It’s time now to recognise there is pride in public service and that savings should be balanced with better management and decent provision of the support people rely on most. Thankfully the new administration is not only getting back to delivering the basics, but is also committed to tackling the big issues that matter, from our Planet Positive programme to delivering social and affordable homes for local people. People voted for change and that’s exactly what our councillor team are now delivering”.

Scott Berry