Somerset County Council has been run by the Lib Dems for the last 16 years. There are 30 Lib Dem councillors (technically 29 as one has been suspended in an extraordinary case described at length here) against 24 for the Conservatives and also four Labour councillors.
The Somerset Conservatives have launched their manifesto with a tough message: "The recession is affecting all of us. We are all having to tighten our belts. Somerset County Council should be no exception to this." The point out the Lib Dems have doubled the Council Tax over the past 12 years. Even more shocking is that they have trebled debt in the last six years from £104 million to £317 million. The interest bill is £11 million a year. But they still managed to invest £25 million in Icelandic banks. They also spend more on publicity than any other Council in the west.
The manifesto pledges to freeze Council Tax. Other points include:
- Promote Somerset as a tourist destination.
- Emphasis in schools on numeracy and literacy, good behaviour and politeness.
- Defend small schools.
- Increase choice for adults and young people in social care.
- Fill the potholes.
- Reduce the number of "ugly and unnecessary road signs on our county's roads."
- Encourage rural post offices, shops and chemists.