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Have your say on future local government arrangements for Taunton

17 November 2021 : Community, Council news

Somerset West and Taunton Council (SWT) is seeking the public’s views as part of a Community Governance Review (CGR) for the Taunton area.

Plans to consult on proposals for the possible creation of a new town or parish council(s) in the area, including the geographic scope of such a review, were agreed at a full council meeting on Tuesday, 19 October 2021, with Terms of Reference formally commencing the review published on 12 November 2021.

As a ‘principal council’, SWT is responsible for deciding whether to create, amend or abolish parish areas within its boundaries and whether to establish a council(s) to serve such areas.

Currently, Taunton remains the only area in Somerset unrepresented by a town or parish council following previous local government reorganisation in 1974.

In March this year, the council agreed to address this anomaly by undertaking a CGR of the area, both as part of its corporate priorities and to honour the same commitment made by the former Taunton Deane Borough Council before its dissolution in April 2019.

Town and parish councils are the most local tier of government, playing a key role in communities through the promotion of community engagement.

They provide local services for residents and in some cases, take over responsibility for services previously managed by the district or county councils, such as parks and open spaces, leisure facilities, footpaths, and community facilities.

They must be consulted on planning applications within their area and may work with the principal council to create a Neighbourhood Plan for localised development.

A public consultation is now open to residents, organisations, and businesses within the area of the scope of the review.

Respondents are being asked to decide whether a new town or parish council(s) should be set up to serve and represent Taunton and if so, whether the new council(s) should also include parts of, or all of the surrounding parishes, including Bishop’s Hull, Cheddon Fitzpaine, Comeytrowe, Kingston St. Mary, Norton Fitzwarren, Staplegrove, Trull and West Monkton.

A Working Group comprised of SWT Councillors with support from officers, will consider and analyse all comments submitted before publishing draft recommendations, which will be considered by Full Council in the new year and subject to a further round of public consultation in February and March 2022.

Feedback received from the consultations will help the council to reach a final decision about whether any changes should come into effect.

Any new town or parish council(s) agreed would likely come into being on 1 April 2023.

Comments are encouraged via an online survey on the council’s consultation portal. Alternatively, feedback can be emailed to governance@somersetwestandtaunton.gov.uk.

Paper versions of the online survey can also be requested from:

Governance Team
Somerset West and Taunton Council
PO Box 866
Taunton
TA1 9GS

Completed forms can be returned using the same address or handed in at any of the council's offices.

This first stage of consultation will close Wednesday, 12 January 2022.

For more information about the review, including a timetable and terms of reference, visit the council’s Community Governance Review for Taunton webpage.