BRIDGWATER Town Council has revealed a budget 'error' has resulted in a projected overspend of £420,000.

The news comes only weeks after Bridgwater signed a 'historic' devolution deal and took on several assets from the struggling Somerset Council, in a year when the town council also increased the local tax precept in Bridgwater by around 164 per cent.

A spokesperson for the town council said: “We have taken over host of service delivery in Bridgwater over the last few months in a joint deal that will ensure much-valued facilities continue for residents.

“We have identified an error in our budget software, and certain costs are projected to exceed budgeted amounts in the 2024/25 financial year.

“We would like to reassure its residents that the current budget is sustainable and there is no threat to service delivery.

“The overspend of £420,000 will be managed by using a mixture of reserves, increased income generation and savings within other budget headings.”

Bridgwater parliamentary candidates have responded to the news, and Ashley Fox (Conservative) was the first to criticise the mistake.

"This is typical of a Labour-run administration," Ashley said.

"Labour cost you more and can't do the job properly. They can't be trusted."

"It's simply not fair on households who are now paying significantly more in council tax only to see the council mess up their own books.

"Bridgwater residents deserve better."

In response to Mr Fox's claims, Leigh Redman (Labour) commended the town council's 'bold' decision to take on services, and assured residents that there is no threat to the delivery of these services.

“I have to admit I am a little surprised by the comment from the conservative candidate who has never been to a town council meeting," he said.

"Typical tory bluster, they create a mess and then blame everyone else for the outcomes!

“We all know that the Labour run, Bridgwater Town Council (BTC) has taken the bold decision to take on a range of services that impact residents on a day to day basis.

“Things we all value such as, parks and open spaces, play areas, flowerbeds/baskets, street cleaning, road sweeping, drain clearing, fly tipping, litter and dog poo bins.

“Let’s not forget these services were at risk of stopping and most had been decimated over the last decade due to the Conservative Party’s horrific austerity policies.

“Local government has had funding reduced by over 30 per cent in that time.

"Adult social care is unsustainable, do you remember Boris Johnson at the last election saying he had oven ready deal to fix adult social care? Where is that deal now?

“Speaking specifically on the projected overspend, I know as a member of BTC that the clerk and staff will work hard to resolve the issue, I’m confident they will keep all members up to date and will keep costs under control. The council has sufficient reserves and there is no threat to service delivery.”

Claire Sully (Lib Dem) said this sort of financial mismanagement was typical of the county Labour group.

“Somerset Labour have again shown their financial irresponsibility with a budgeting error causing Bridgwater Town Council’s £420,000 overspend, news which follows the financially reckless decision to vote against the Somerset Council budget in February, They simply cannot be trusted,” Claire said.

“With the chaotic Conservatives now the party of economic instability, it is time to elect Liberal Democrat MPs to parliament in order to provide a financially sound voice for Bridgwater and the country.

“The only real change is to vote Liberal Democrat. However, to elect change, voters must turn out at the ballot box and vote for it.”