THE leader of Somerset Labour has blamed the Conservative Party for Somerset Council's recent financial woes.

When asked to comment on the financial position, Cllr Leigh Redman, leader of the Labour group on Somerset Council, said: "The position Somerset Council finds itself has been signposted for sometime, I think the people of Somerset have been disproportionately impacted by circumstances outside of their control.

"I have said it before, I believe we are in the big hole locally now, because of the actions of 13 years of Tory government and the actions started by the Tory administration more than 15 years ago, cuts, cuts, and cuts.

"Somerset was one of the first councils that took the Eric Pickles school of local government finance to an extreme, the level of cuts inflicted on Somerset people, heightened by a long period of frozen council tax and cuts in grants from central government, has devastated many of the services the council provides.

"The messages coming out of Somerset council now are very concerning, the over spend of last year, the combining of 5 councils, the new finance system, the uncertainty for staff, costs for social care, the lack of confidence in the current government, are all coming together to make our short term future a lot more worrying.

"The Labour group on Somerset council are holding the ruling group to account - we continue to listen to the conversations heard from residents, building on our local agenda.

"We need to meet the urgent need for our communities - we need to be making our case to government while we are getting ready for the next general election.

"The cost of living is having a disproportionate impact on those in our communities who cannot withstand it.

"The areas of deprivation in Somerset are taking the toll of cuts, we need to find a way to rebalance, we need to build a better future for the people of Somerset and the only way to achieve that is for the next government to be Labour and that needs to be now!"

Ian Liddell-Grainger, Conservative MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, believes that the actions of Somerset councillors are more to blame than the central government, and said the former County Council leader, David Fothergill, had made false promises.

“The Government has less to do with it than the councillors in Somerset," he explained.

“We were promised when we became a unitary that we’d save 18 million pounds per year by David Forthergill - that has not only has not come to pass but we’re going bankrupt.

"The problem we have is that the statutory obligations overstretch what we can raise.

"This is partly down to the council not making cuts when they should’ve made them, but also due to the population demographic changing - the oldest population in Somerset is now in Minehead.

He affirmed: “It’s much more to do with local issues than central government."