West Somerset council, which on the verge of becoming financially ‘unviable’, has identified its waste collection service as a target for cost savings.
Our sister magazine Local Government Chronicle (LGC) has reported that West Somerset District Council, the smallest district in England, is on the verge of becoming financially unviable.
This unprecedented scenario could have repercussions for the council’s waste collection service, which is currently contracted as part of the Somerset Waste Partnership. The service has been “identified as an opportunity for cost reductions”, according to a leaked report obtained by LGC.
The Local Government Association (LGA) stated that there is disgreement over the amount that West Somerset is subsidised by the partnership, and there is the possibility that a waste collection service outside of the partnership may “cost substantially more”. The report concluded that this must be explored further, “with due diligence” before being put forward as a cost saving option.
The LGA view that the council was “not viable as a unit of local democracy and governance over the longer term” was the subject of discussions involving Conservative leader Tim Taylor, chief executive Adrian Dyer and government ministers on Tuesday.
The assessment predicted a funding gap caused by inflation, pay, contract and property costs of £248k in the council’s finances from 2014/15. This works out as 4.7% of net spending, and is expected to grow to more than 26 % by 2019/20.
The LGA has recommended several measures to the small district, including seeking urgent advice from ministers, a review of its boundaries and money-saving measures such as ending non-statutory services.