Somerset’s future reduced to political point scoring
It has not taken long for the Future of Local Government in Somerset to be reduced to political point scoring.
Broadly the past 24 hours have seen the LibDems line up against and the Conservatives in favour. Some of the most vigorous proponents of a unitary authority have, presumably for reasons of political expediency, suddenly become agitators against the idea.
Meanwhile the question residents should be asking is what will be best for us? Frankly we shouldn’t care if a councillor is a communist or somewhere to the right of Jacob Rees-Mogg.
What we all want is someone looking out for the best for all Somerset residents across all our local services. Not just trying to protect their own narrow patch. How will we get the best services? How can we fund childrens’ services and adult social care.
The District Councils have made it clear enough in their statements in the last 24 hours that they don’t want to touch the problem. Not with actual cash anyway.
Their preferred option, collaborative working (whatever exactly that means) of the sort that created the Southwest One disaster, will not provide more funds for either childrens’ services or adult social care.
The simple truth is that it is easier to dump the problem on one individual authority (the county council), than to get together and find new ways of funding it.
But is it actually clever to stick two fingers up to the future of our children and offer no comfort for the burgeoning population of over 65s who increasingly rely on social services? To date whilst there have been plenty of words there are no proposals (aside from the unitary offer) that would actually see more money going to either children’s services or to adult social care.
The point of wherever we go next, whichever route we take for Somerset, there needs to be an answer that brings more cash to bear on the services that need it most. Is “I’m all right Jack” good enough?