Residents to be urged to help save ANYUSCC

The news that the All-New-Yet-Unimproved Somerset Cuonty Council would very much like to divest some of their services to Parish Councils in the cuonty came as a shock to no one, apart from Smalltown and Dullbridge Town Council.

It was obvious to anyone paying attention that the cash-strapped ANYUSCC would be seeking to offload as many of its smaller costs as possible in an attempt to stave off bankruptcy.

ANYUSCC will be unable to raise their share of the precept due to limits imposed by central government, but parish councils don’t have such limits and will therefore be expected to take up the slack on behalf of the bigger council.

Provisions such as street cleaning, dog bins, toilets and even parks and gardens in the area are expected to be just some of the services ANYUSCC will be asking parish councils to fund themselves.

The promised savings which were to be gained by amalgamating the district councils into the All-New-Yet-Unimproved Somerset Cuonty Council failed to materialise and, instead of taking one step forward, it is actually 94 step backwards as the savings which should have been made from combining forces will increase, once services are shared amongst the smaller councils.

Anyone who saw ANYUSCC declare a financial crisis would, or should, have realised that the Cuonty Council would want to pass on some of their costs to the parishes, but it seems SaDTC were caught napping and now find themselves in a tricky situation.

BeFuddled Party Town Councillors will feel duty-bound to help out their fellow BeFuddleds at Cuonty level by taking on whichever services they are told to. But where does this leave residents?

One pound of every five residents currently pay in SaDTC council tax payments goes to support the White Elephant Enclosure, which benefits the few but allows Town Councillors to pretend they run an efficient and essential service, what percentage of funding will be needed to take on additional services? No one knows, because ANYUSSC is yet to provide detailed costings, so SaDTC finds itself stuck between a rock and a hard place. It will need to raise council tax, but the current Finance and Misappropriation budget has already been approved by the F&M committee with only a £50,000 increase on last year’s budget of £649,000 to £694,000.

This sum already includes a contribution to cover toilet provision, dog bins and Town centre CCTV, costs passed on to SaDTC from Sadgebore District Council when it found itself struggling to balance the books previously, with £87,000 budgeted for these services for next year. If SaDTC choose to take on the full cost of these three services that sum will need to be increased.

Further costs to be considered will be the maintenance of the parks, gardens and play equipment in the area. ANYUSCC inherited Pinnacle Park, Chateau Gardens, and Estuary Cove, together with 13 play grounds in the area, from Sadgebore District Council and it is likely that this would be one service that ANYUSCC will be desperate for SaDTC to take on.

The question is – can residents afford all this?

SaDTC has promised to seek the views of residents, and will hold two consultations to help councillors come to a decision. Given the way SaDTC has wasted Council Tax in the past, it is hoped that as many residents as possible attend and urge resistance to the plans.

However, it is highly likely that any Consultation or Survey will be run along the same lines as the recent similar project undertaken by the Criminal Police Commissioner i.e.We are asking for your opinion, but will be doing it anyway.

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