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Axed gritting routes in Somerset could be saved as Council announces £3.5million 'more than expected' in budget

Somerset County Council has announced an extra £3.5million in its budget for the next financial year. Credit: ITV West Country

Axed gritting routes in Somerset could be re-added to the list next winter as the council reveals it has £3.5million more than expected for the next financial year.

Somerset County Council's cabinet members recommended that the extra funding should be made available to review the cuts made to Somerset's gritting service last year.

If the proposals are backed by the full council, routes that were axed from the gritting service this winter could be re-added next year.

£3.5m
Extra money available in Somerset County Council's 2019/20 budget.
£3m
Amount described as 'one-off' money for next year by the council.
£500k
Amount of money being added to the council's 'base budget' for the next financial year.

In October 2018 the council announced it was no longer going to grit 180 miles of county roads to save money.

It proposed to salt 17% of the road network instead of the 21% it covered in previous years.

The blue routes show the roads the council considered axing when they announced the planned savings last year. Credit: Somerset County Council

It was announced in September last year that the council had to make £15million worth of savings in 18 months after years of funding cuts.

But it has been revealed that the final budget for 2019/20 is £3.5million more than expected.

Cabinet members have proposed to provide up to £200,000 to gritting services, which would reverse the initial decision to save £120,000.

Councillors have recommended that a full review is undertaken ahead of next winter.

The council announced in 2018 that it had to make £15million of savings in just 18 months. Credit: ITV West Country

Other savings that could be dropped for the next financial year include gulley clearing and jetting.

Councillors have also proposed to delay multiple savings for a year:

  • Flood water management (£80,000)
  • Dementia support in care homes (£100,000)
  • Support to help vulnerable young people into work (£50,000)

The recommendations backed by cabinet councillors would include using £500,000 to reduce long-term costs and £1.3million to pay off debts.

Leader of Somerset County Council, David Fothergill, said: "The reinstatement of routes is not possible for this winter because we cannot ramp up operations again in such a short period of time. But we are committed to reviewing routes putting up to £200,000 into gritting next year."

We still have a budget gap of £15m for next financial year and, welcome though it is, we have only gained an extra £500,000 into our ongoing base budget. Difficult decisions have had to be taken and more will need to be taken to bridge that gap, but we have done everything we can to keep the impact on residents at a minimum.

– Cllr David Fothergill