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Taunton to have its own Town Council

05 October 2022 : Council news

Taunton – Somerset’s county town – will be represented by a new Town Council for the first time in 50 years.

The grass-roots council is due to come into being on 1 April next year – just as the new, unitary Somerset Council is launched.

Both Somerset West and Taunton Council (SWT) and Somerset County Council (SCC) held special full council meetings to approve the creation of a new town council for Taunton and changes to local governance arrangements, marking the culmination of two years of intensive work, research and consultation.

The decisions mean a legal order will be made for a town council to represent Taunton - the centre of which was the only part of Somerset not to be parished as a result of local government reorganisation in 1974.  

The commitment to a Town Council for Taunton was made in the business case for the new, unitary council in Somerset which recognised the need for Taunton to have a strong town voice when the role of city, town and parish councils becomes even more important.

Both the district and county councils worked in partnership to deliver shared pledges on creating the new Town Council.

Town and parish councils are the most local tier of local government, directly elected by people in their area. They can deliver services to meet local needs and improve community well-being.

The decisions follow recommendations made by SWT’s cross-party Community Governance Review Working Group after two public consultations.

As well as the creation of a new parish to cover the currently unparished area of Taunton, they include a number of changes to governance in the whole area under review which takes in eight neighbouring parish areas.

Chair of the SWT Working Group, Cllr Derek Perry, said: “Establishing a council for Taunton which reflects its recent growth means that it will be one that residents of the whole town can identify with, ensuring they are represented and governed at local level.”

Cllr Val Keitch, SCC’s Executive Member for Local Government Reorganisation, said: “Now both SWT and SCC have agreed the final recommendations of the community governance review, Somerset County Council will make the Reorganisation Order to give effect to the recommendations.

“Both councils have been involved in the development of the review’s recommendations and the agreed outcomes.”

A Shadow Taunton Town Council will be established soon to lead and oversee the work to establish the new council.

Robes, chains and other regalia associated with Taunton’s Mayor will be transferred to the Town Council and the council’s chair will take on the role of Mayor.

The first elections for the 20 councillors to the new council for Taunton will be held on the first Thursday in May in 2023.