As Sedgemoor District Council votes to look into Joint working with South Somerset District Council in the climate of Government withdrawl of support grants, Sedgemoor Labour group has outlined it’s ‘deal-breakers’.
SDC Chief Executive Kerry Rickards addressed the Full Council meeting of 23rd October by saying “Over a cup of tea with South Somerset we had been asked if we would wish to consider some form of Joint working. This was in August of this year. We had previously considered this with Mendip and with West Somerset, and South Somerset have already tried this with East Devon. We said a business case would have to be worked up.”
SDC Leader Cllr Duncan McGinty (Con,East Polden)put the offer in context saying “We are facing a £3.2m funding gap over 4 years and so we have to look outside of SDC to see if our service delivery is really achievable. At the moment we are looking at the principal not the detail.”
Cllr Mick Lerry,leader of Sedgemoor Labour group, said “We will support this but with provisos. These are our dealbreakers. This must lead to the retention of staff, we mustn’t see compulsory redundancies , we mustn’t see a loss of service provision and the Trades Unions must be involved in the process. We need to not only continue to deliver services but enhance that delivery and so income generation is an important part of this and we need to remain in control of what is delivered. Rather than cutting,cutting,cutting we need to be retaining, enhancing and saving. We always get these short sharp shocks from Government,awaiting our fate every autumn instead of a clear 5 year plan. Our big spenders are refuse and recycling and they’re already out so the next targets will be homelessness and housing and we need to be able to deliver these strategies responsibly. “
Cllr Bob Filmer (Con, Knoll) said “It’s a logical step to evaluate the situation. The devil will be in the detail and we’re not committing ourselves to anything”
Cllr Mark Healey (Con, Puriton & Woolavington) said “If you look around the country you can see that individually we can’t survive and so by working together we can”
Cllr Ann Bown (Con, Wembdon & Cannington) said “I will be abstaining. I think this is very bad. As a district council we’ve been very prudent but in South Somerset they’ve just bought Westlands, the Octagon is losing money, they’re taking on more staff and they’re spending willy nilly. Why not push our stand alone company instead and then we wouldn’t have to go down this route.”
The meeting voted to investigate possible joint working with a reportback by February 2016.