Jamie Hailstone 27 July 2016

District council votes for merger

Taunton Deane BC has given the green light to merger plans with neighbouring West Somerset Council.

Members approved a recommendation last night (26 July) by the council leader to go ahead with combining with West Somerset after the two local authorities published a business case earlier this month, outlining possible options for future working arrangements.

The two councils already share a chief executive and officers, but the business case claimed a single authority could generate significant savings.

Members of West Somerset Council will meet on 7 September to discuss the proposal.

‘The decision is important, and will ensure we can continue to invest in our growth ambitions, deliver services to our public, and importantly, help us take a huge step towards having a financially sustainable future,’ said Taunton Deane DC leader, Cllr John Williams.

Cllr Williams also claimed local government minister Marcus Jones had made it clear to him that the merger was his preferred route.

If West Somerset Council approves the merger as well, the two councils will request a meeting with ministers and hope the new, single authority will be ready for the 2019 local elections.

The two local authorities have also invited Sedgemoor DC to join their partnership and councillors there will discuss the proposal at a full council meeting on 3 August.

Although in response, a spokesman for Sedgemoor DC said it ‘is at a loss that it is only at the 11th hour and 59th minute that an invitation has been extended to Sedgemoor to explore a business case’. 

‘This is a giant step for us in Taunton Deane,’ added Cllr Williams.

‘I believe this is the right thing to do in the best interests of our combined communities, making us sustainable into the future. Our ambition is for the everyday services people rely on to both survive and thrive.’

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