MP Ian Liddell-Grainger has called for a cross-party effort to help Somerset Council navigate a way out of its financial crisis.

He said all of Somerset’s MPs should unite to support the council as it battles to avoid bankruptcy - and use whatever influence they had at Westminster to secure additional Government funding.

The council declared a financial emergency in November when it became clear it was facing a £70 million cost increase for providing adult social care.

Some additional funding has been provided but not enough to balance the books, with the prospect of Government commissioners being sent in to run it unless its finances can be turned round.

Mr Liddell-Grainger, who represents West Somerset and will be the Conservative candidate at the General Election in a new constituency covering parishes around Wellington and the Culm Valley, has already met Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to lobby for more Levelling Up cash for rural areas such as Somerset where cost of living increases have hit particularly hard.

He has also been in regular, close contact with Liberal Democrat council leader Cllr Bill Revans to discuss how the crisis can be best managed.

But, he said now was not the time to be using the council as a political football.

“This is not about the way the council has been, or is being run,” he said.

“It matters not what colour flag is flying over County Hall.

“This nightmare scenario has been brought on us purely and simply because of an exponential, uncontrollable and unaffordable rise in the cost of delivering services, particularly for adult social care.

“In a critical situation such as this there is no place for political sniping.

“All MPs in Somerset should be working together and singing the same tune.”

Mr Liddell-Grainger said sending in commissioners would spell the worst possible outcome, not just for the council but for everybody in Somerset.

“I have seen before how commissioners work,” he said.

“They will adopt a ruthless, merciless, slash-and-burn policy which will inflict indiscriminate cuts on council services until the books can be balanced.

“The council is doing its very best to get itself out of this situation and I know after my meetings with Cllr Revans that the decision to declare as many as 1,000 redundancies has only been taken after a great deal of soul-searching.

“But, it still appears as though resolving this nightmare situation is beyond the capabilities of the authority itself which is why we should all be exerting as much pressure on the Government to provide further support.”