Sunday, 16 September 2018

Chairman’s Column  13th September 2018

There is little doubt that these are difficult times for Somerset County Council who face rising demand and increasing costs for adult social care and children’s services.  Yet both these departments are now facing large cuts to their funding.  Despite the withdrawal of substantial amounts of financial support from central government for these core services, the County Council chose not to increase council tax year on year.  The County has now simply run out of money, leaving some of the most vulnerable people in our society potentially abandoned.

Somerset County Council also announced that it plans to drastically reduce financial support for the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). The CAB has become increasing important lifeline in recent times as government has cut back on access to Legal Aid. This has left the CAB as the only source of independent advice and help for many people.

The County Council now plans to remove £98,000 from the CAB budget in October, giving the organisation no time to plan for the impact of an overnight reduction of 20% in its core funding. The Town Council recognises the important job the CAB does in helping residents in often difficult and dire circumstances, and we continue to give an annual grant to this vital service.

Last week Jon Hardy and Garfield Kennedy met with County Council officials to continue talks to keep our library in the centre of Shepton. I am positive that the town council’s detailed business plan,and the strong social and economic arguments that we have spelt out, makes a compelling case to keep the library in the heart of the town.  County Councillors will determine our library’s future.  If they choose to put it into Mendip District Council’s SHAPE offices, it will betray all the work done by the persuasive and passionate Friends of Shepton Library and your Town Council.

After a week away in sunny Majorca it’s great to be back home. With our Sunday Market returning this weekend, it will be another chance to buy a lovely selection of food and gifts.  Sadly, for me, I will have to make it a fleeting visit as I have a busy day representing our town at a service in Wells for the Mid-Somerset Royal Air Force Association, and then on to Highbridge for their town council’s annual awards and civic service.

Chris Inchley, Chair, Shepton Mallet Town Council


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