Following our victory in Somerset on June 4th, where we emerged from 16 years of opposition to hold a majority of 12 on the 58-seat Council, I seemed to be the most popular man in Somerset, with both the local and national media wanting to speak to me. I tried to accommodate all the requests, appearing live on the BBC's national election coverage on the Friday afternoon, and again on the BBC's regional Politics Show on the Sunday lunchtime.
Since then, I'm glad to say that media requests have died down slightly, giving me time to concentrate on implementing the promises that got us elected. We campaigned on a mandate of change, promising to freeze the Council Tax for Somerset residents, improve the poor state of the county's roads, and begin an era of better financial management following Somerset's failed Icelandic investments and spiralling levels of debt incurred under 16 years of Lib Dem control.
As well as getting the Council's finances in a position to implement the promised Council Tax freeze, we must also prepare ourselves for a reduced Government settlement in this new age of austerity, even when the Conservatives are in Downing Street. Because of this, I am working hard to achieve a freeze in staff pay, as well as implementing a recruitment freeze for 6 months (with key posts such as social workers excluded). Acknowledging that the Council needs to do more with less, my new Cabinet colleagues and I have impressed upon the Corporate Directors the need to make all services leaner in this wintry economic
I am fully aware that the next 4 years are going to be hard, but my Cabinet and I have the energy required to implement the changes needed to provide vital services to the residents of Somerset during these