A shot of the town bridge in the centre of BridgwaterImage source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Some services will now be run locally in Bridgwater due to wider financial issues in Somerset

By Clara Bullock

BBC News, Somerset

A town council has voted to increase council tax to preserve local services.

Bridgwater Town Council will raise rates by £3.52 a week for a Band D house, an annual increase of £183.

The council is preparing to take over some services from Somerset Council, which has declared a financial emergency.

The budget will be crucial for Bridgwater in times of “cutbacks and uncertainty” said Town Council leader Brian Smedley.

“Everywhere we see councils going bust, sacking people, reducing services and selling assets.

“But that isn’t the case in Bridgwater because for a very modest increase per week we are saving jobs, making sure people get the services they need, by taking back control from the big councils.”

‘Keep money in town’

About 80% of people in Bridgwater are on Band A or B, with lesser increases, Mr Smedley said.

Band A Properties will pay an extra £2.34 per week.

“In return we stop the parks closing, save jobs, and keep money in the town,” Mr Smedley added.

The town council will take on street sweeping and gully cleaning as well as running community facilities such as the Rollercoaster Youth Club.

Deputy leader Kathy Pearce said: “We have to take control of our own services to keep our parks open and our streets clean.

“Somerset is in dire trouble. They are just pushing their debt into next year’s budget.

“But for us in Bridgwater this is also an opportunity to do things better.”

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