THE LIB-DEM parliamentary candidate has commended Taunton Town Council’s budget for 2024-25.

Gideon Amos said the council is stepping up to save things “that make our town safer and better”.

On Tuesday (January 30), the town council approved a council tax hike that will mean a £299.30 Band D precept with an increase of £3.65 a week.

Taunton Deane MP Rebecca Pow said “the LibDem-run town council is completely out of touch with the challenges that households are facing”.

Mr Amos said: “After sweeping national cuts to social care by the government last November - of over 50 per cent according to the National Audit Office - and sky-rocketing inflation caused by the Conservative kamikaze budget last year, it’s not surprising councils around the country, including Conservative ones, are going bankrupt.

“Somerset Council is tackling exactly the same funding issues.

“In the face of all this, Taunton Town Council is right to step up to save things that make our town safer and better.

“These include town wardens and the locking of park gates as well as vital protection and improvements of our parks and facilities, which would otherwise be lost completely.

“Council taxpayers everywhere are having to pay more as the direct result of government funding cuts.

“I’ve also pressed for Somerset Council to preserve its council tax Reduction and Hardship Scheme and have been glad to get the assurance recently that’s exactly what they’re doing.

“But we urgently need a new approach to government to fix our broken care system, or local residents and our NHS will be forced to pay even more dearly. It’s time for change”.

MP Rebecca Pow said: “The town council precept rise of 179 per cent, which for a Band D property, for example, will go up from £109 last year to £299 this year, appears to signal that the LibDem-run town council is completely out of touch with the challenges that households are facing.

“We need a functioning council that understands the delivery of services whilst balancing it with people’s ability to pay.

“The Government have worked hard to put more money into people’s pockets which includes the recent National Insurance cut, worth £450 per year on the average salary.

“It seems extraordinary that the council is prepared to eat into this with little thought of the consequences.

“In addition, this precept hike is not related to the situation that the LibDem-run Somerset Council finds itself in as decisions have not yet been finalised regarding what services they will still be delivering.

“It must be recognised that the previous Conservative-led council had handled its budgets efficiently and indeed built up a surplus in preparation for the establishment of the unitary.

“Sadly, largely due to slow response in terms of delivering necessary efficiencies and changes this surplus has been jeopardised by the current Liberal Democrat administration.

“I welcome the recently announced £600m of funding from Government to support local authorities across the country. I’ll continue to engage to ensure constituents have the services they deserve.”