Town Council’s Budget to Save Jobs and Services

Town Council Leader Brian Smedley explains Budget

On Thursday 1st February Bridgwater Town Council will be voting on its budget for 2024-25. “This budget will be crucial for Bridgwater’s security and prosperity in these times of cutbacks and uncertainty” said Town Council Leader Brian Smedley “Everywhere we see councils going bust, sacking people, reducing services and selling assets. But that isn’t the case in Bridgwater because we’re well ahead of the game and for a very modest increase per week in our precept we are in fact saving jobs, making sure people get the services they need, preserving the assets that make the town what it is and, most importantly, running things better and that’s because we are taking back control from the big councils and running things ourselves as we always used to.”

A Change for the Better

Town Hall taking back control from Somerset

The Town Council budget is being set ahead of the County Council budget and just deals with things in the town therefore the massive cuts and tax hikes that the county council will be making are being cushioned by the Town budget. Cllr Smedley points out “80% of the people of Bridgwater are on Band A or B and rises in precepts for them will be very modest for them, some £10 a month increase for a Band A, which is most of Bridgwater. But in return we stop the parks closing, save jobs, and keep money in the town. We are taking on community facilities such as the Rollercoaster in Sydenham as we’ve done with ReCreation in Hamp. We are taking over the running of the Fair, we take on the Docks and we do our own street sweeping and gully cleaning which will make a massive change. And what’s more this will start with a blitz so everyone can see the change is for the better.”

‘Disgraceful’ Tory Scare Tactics

Tories stir the pot….try to ignore

Press releases put out by local Tory Chairman Diogo Rodrigues have been described by Cllr Smedley as “Misleading verging on disgraceful and designed to scare people. But what we expect.”  The Town Council Leader continued “Make no mistake this crisis has been caused by the 14 years of Tory government. They not only ran down the NHS to the point of breaking they also reduced funding to Local Government then piled statutory services on them such as social care, to the point where they couldn’t afford to raise enough money locally to pay for this. Combined with this the Tories who ran county hall for the past 12 years totally failed to maintain adequate levels of council tax and therefore now that they’ve lost control have also left the new LibDem administration with no funds to do anything. It is beyond decency that these Tories are now trying to blame anyone other than their greedy destructive selves.”

Bridgwater Town Council will be taking on more staff to deliver services in the area, many will come from the loyal workforce cast on the scrapheap by the cuts at county and the loss of the districts to the disastrous unitary experiment.

What the Town Budget is actually proposing

Band % of households in this category Yearly total Monthly total weekly total
A 51% 196 16.41 3.79
B 27% 229 19.14 4.42
C 15% 262 21.88 5.04
D   4% 295 24.61 5.68
Other bands 2%

Value for Money and Long Overdue

Kathy Pearce “We have to take control of our services”

Cllr Smedley says “This is a long overdue boost for Bridgwater and is absolutely necessary and also value for money. 80% of Bridgwater tax payers are A/B and around £3 a week gets all these services. In band D there’s only 4% of people. And even that will be up to just £5 per week. Many of course will get single occupancy discounts and those on the lowest incomes will still be protected. But to save services and jobs we need to do this now. The recruitment process will start at once.  Our aim is to protect and improve service delivery in Bridgwater and protect assets for the community. If we don’t do this then Somerset County will reduce, cut and eventually cease delivery of services. Not only this but a new revitalised Bridgwater will be able to offer services to nearby Parish Councils and of course achieve an income in that way too “

Deputy Leader Cllr Kathy Pearce said “We have to take control of our own services to keep our parks open and our streets clean. We’re in a stronger position than other towns as we’ve been a devolution pilot. We’re in line with other towns with our precept but further down the road in planning so we can hit the road running. Somerset is in dire trouble. They are just pushing their debt into next year’s budget. They could be making some 2,500 redundancies.  This is a cynical situation caused by the Conservatives. But for us in Bridgwater this is also an opportunity to do things better and although in one way we’re forced into it but actually we will see an improvement. “

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Joshua Schwieso
Joshua Schwieso
4 months ago

Well done Bridgwater Town Council!

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