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Page last updated at 14:42 GMT, Friday, 2 October 2009 15:42 UK
Tories' first 100 days in power
Ken Maddock, Leader of Somerset County Council
Ken Maddock wants to cut the council's debts and freeze council tax

After 16 years under the Liberal Democrats the Tories swept into power at Somerset County Council in June.

They promised to freeze council tax and decrease debts held by the local authority.

This prompted fears of job cuts but new leader Ken Maddock has said compulsory redundancies were a last resort.

The only area where he hinted at investment was social care to enable people to live independently at home for longer.

'Find a few quid'

In an interview with BBC Somerset, Ken Maddock said there were ways of cutting the cost of social care in the medium to long term.

"We can change the way we deliver our services. If you look at social services where we go into people's homes, in some cases we get them out of bed, wash them, dress them, give them breakfast first thing in the morning because they simply cannot do it for themselves.

"In order to lift them out of bed we need two social workers - if we could find a few quid to put in a hoist we would only need one person to do it. That would cost a bit of money in the short term but it will save us a great deal of money in the medium and long term."

Workforce restructure

Somerset County Council's debt currently stands at around £360m, something the Tories are keen to reduce.

Although Ken said he hoped he would not have to resort to compulsory redundancies but also said one area where savings could be made was by restructuring the workforce.

"We employ 17,000 people - about 10 per cent at the top are absolutely fantastic, the best there is at doing a fantastic job and I'm afraid there's 10 per cent at the bottom - who are not doing a very good job, frankly the future lies somewhere else (for them).

"In the middle there is a big wodge of 80 per cent of employees and there's a great deal of ability there that we're not allowing to blossom and flourish as it should do because we've got too many rules and regulations holding people back. I need to change the culture to free those people up and give better value for money for local people."

Each year the council loses nine per cent of its work force due to things like resignations, retirement and sickness. A job freeze was introduced in August.

The Tories say they will hold up one election promise that captured voters' imagination - to rid the county of potholes.

"We're about to re-instate a budget that was cancelled in April. It was a million and quarter catch-up budget for topping off potholes,'' said Ken.

"That is a band-aid, not a permanent solution but it does need to be done."




SEE ALSO
Tories take control of Somerset
05 Jun 09 |  Somerset

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