Staff working to protect and conserve the Blackdown Hills environment say they are astounded by a proposed 90% cut in county council funding.
They describe the £1,000 sum offered by Somerset as a contribution to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty budget as “paltry”. AONB is one step below National Park status.
Linda Bennett, manager, Blackdown Hills AONB based in Hemyock, said: “We recognise that all local authorities are facing serious financial challenges as a result of reduction in central government funding and knew we would be facing further funding reductions. However a cut of nearly 90 per cent has totally astounded us.
“The Blackdown Hills AONB forms an impressive backdrop to Taunton and Wellington and is much enjoyed by the county’s residents. We can only continue our work with communities if all of our local authorities are prepared to share the very reasonable costs. Somerset County Council sadly is proposing to renege on its commitment.”
The Blackdown Hills AONB Partnership has written to the leader of Somerset County Council John Osman asking why the “disproportionate” cuts are necessary.
Somerset county council is looking to make £18 million spending cuts for 2014/2015. A decision will be made on February 19.