A TEAM which looks after the Blackdowns says funding cuts could have a serious impact on its work.

Staff at the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership were “astounded” after Somerset County Council cut its grant pot for AONBs countywide from £45,000 to £5,000.

The Blackdowns team says it will receive only a £1,000 share, with the rest of the money going to the Mendips, Quantocks, and Cranborne Chase.

Linda Bennett, manager of the Blackdown Hills AONB, said: “We recognised that all local authorities are facing serious financial challenges as a result of a reduction in central government funding and knew we would be facing further funding reductions. “However a cut of nearly 90% has totally astounded us.”

The Blackdown partnership has written to Somerset County Council leader, John Osman, to query why the “disproportionate” cuts are necessary.

Cllr Osman said after the latest round of cuts were announced last week: “We have to make tough choices, but we are the same as any careful household.

“We have a reduced income, increased bills, something has to give.

"It is not something we want to do, but it is something we have to do - just as every council in the country is now doing.”