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Council Leader’s position on local government debate

02 June 2020 : Council news

The Leader of Somerset West and Taunton Council, Councillor Federica Smith-Roberts, says now is not the time to ask people to engage in discussions on the future of local government in Somerset.

SCC has announced that surveys of residents and businesses across the county will take place from this week to gather views towards disbanding all five councils and setting up a new single Unitary Authority.

Cllr Smith-Roberts argues that the push for a reorganisation of government in Somerset is wrong while the current Covid-19 pandemic is impacting our communities.

Cllr Smith-Roberts said: “People are still dying in our hospitals and care homes. Businesses are facing an unprecedented economic challenge.

Thousands of people don't know if they will have a job or an income next week or next month. Parents are worried about their children going back to school. Our High-Streets are still closed.

Somerset West and Taunton has been at the forefront of the battle against the coronavirus - supporting our most vulnerable, helping businesses, keeping people safe.

We've worked closely with our colleagues across Somerset and beyond. This work is still going on - every hour of every day. For the Leader of SCC to decide that top of his list of priorities right now is to ask our community if they want a reorganisation of government in Somerset is extraordinary.

To divert time and money to a pet project and to ask others to do the same shows a dangerous lack of awareness, of empathy and of judgement.

We will look to the future of local government in Somerset when the time is right. That is not now. If Cllr Fothergill thinks it is then I'd ask that he considers his position so we can focus on looking after our communities.”