TRAFFIC in Taunton could be set to get worse after it emerged the town's two park and ride sites are likely to be permanently closed.

The move to axe the facilities at Silk Mills and Gateway, at Ruishton, has been discussed behind closed doors at Somerset County Council and could be approved by the Conservative cabinet next month.

Plans for a third park and ride operation at Monkton Heathfield have been ditched.

The news comes as County Hall looks to cut costs as it struggles to balance its budget.

Cllr Mike Rigby (Independent), opposition spokesman for highways and transport, said: "It's a bad idea.

"The public has spent a lot of money building these facilities and now they're just being closed down.

"It will have an impact on air quality as it will lead to more people driving into town. Where are people going to park in Taunton?"

The park and rides already closed at weekends and on public holidays.

READ MORE: Saturday park-and-ride services in Taunton to close

Mr Rigby said the are among a raft of cuts likely to be announced next month as the council battles to chop millions from this year's spending.

He said: "It's going to be brutal. Children's services are running away with the budget, so the council is going to have to cut £10 million to £15 million out of the budget.

"What we're heading for now is a core offer, like Northamptonshire County Council, only offering basic services to comply with statutory obligations.

"Anything else will be scrapped. There are going to be library closures, a 50 per cent cut in early years support. We're going to see massive changes.

"How much longer are Conservative councillors going to be waving these things through? All they're doing is obliterating the services the council offers."

Jokingly he added: "At least the travellers won't be causing disruption on the park and ride sites. They'll be somewhere permanent for them to stay."

Council leader Cllr David Fothergill said the authority was under pressure from "greatly reduced funding and a growing demand for services" and had been forced to make £130 million savings in the last seven years "while improving performance in many areas".

He added: "Any savings will be taken with a full consideration of the implications, but we have to live within our means and are looking at all services to see where more savings and efficiencies can be made by managing demand, being more productive, or reducing services.

"Over the coming weeks, due process will be followed to ensure that impacts are identified, and consultation undertaken as appropriate.

"As part of this process, we will continue to engage and inform our partners. Formal decisions will be made during September."

The £4 million Gateway park and ride service was opened in November 2009.

Cabinet member for the environment at the time at the county council, Anthony Trollope-Bellew, said the scheme was part of a bigger plan.

“This project is part of the long-term vision to reduce the growth of traffic congestion in Taunton,” he said.