THE councillor in charge of Somerset’s roads slapped in his resignation in protest when the county council highways cuts were announced.

Cllr Anthony Trollope-Bellew said declining road surfaces due top lack of investment would “contribute to deaths and serious injuries”.

The authority plans to halve its highways budget over three years.

Mr Trollope-Bellw, who held the transport and environment portfolio, said: “I find this unacceptable.

“I can’t even accept the financial logic.

“There will be a saving of £35million, but in three years’ time there will be a backlog of £203million – that’s an independently attested figure.

“There will be 96,000 extra potholes, and whether whoever is in control in three years’ time will be able to put the roads back to the state they are in now, I very much doubt.

“The effect will be felt for years to come.

“I believe we need to borrow as the lesser of two evils.

“If we don’t, the road surface will contribute to deaths and serious injuries.”

He said he believed the authority is spending only a fifth of what it needs to on its highways system.

Council leader Cllr Ken Maddock said Mr Trollope-Bellew’sa decision demonstrated how tough the cuts had been.

He added: “But the Government has cut back a quarter of our funding and we don’t have a choice.

“We’ve spent months looking at how we can be more efficient and where we can cut, but also how we can protect frontline services wherever possible.

“There are things we really didn’t want to cut back, but we just don’t have a choice.”

As well as Mr Trollope-Bellew’s exit, Mr Maddock has axed a further two of his Cabint, which will now be five-strong.

Mr Maddock said: “The county council needs to get smaller and is cutting staff, so it’s only right that the Cabinet should do the same.”

Also going are Cllr Stephen Martin-Scott, responsible for strategy and communications, and William Wallace, responsible for community safety.

Mr Maddock added: “In the current financial environment it was always my intention to reduce the size of the Cabinet, but Cllr Trollope-Bellew’s personal decision to leave the Cabinet has made it sensible for this change to be brought forward.

“I’d like to pay tribute to all three of my colleagues who have stepped down this week - each has worked exceptionally hard for the county since we took office last year.”