Local poll on options for change in local government in Somerset
Which of the two options for change in local government in Somerset to replace the existing five councils do you support?
- One council for Somerset (“One Somerset” – the plan for a single council proposed by Somerset County Council)
- Two councils for Somerset: Eastern Somerset and Western Somerset (“Stronger Somerset” the plan for two councils for Somerset – an Eastern and a Western Somerset council – proposed by Somerset West and Taunton Council and the other district councils of Somerset).
That’s the question that all registered electors in Somerset West and Taunton will have the chance to answer in a local poll from 18 May to 4 June.
The poll is being independently run and verified by Civica Electoral Services. Voter packs are being posted on 18 May. All votes must be received by 5pm on Friday 4 June.
Votes can be cast by post using a pre-paid envelope, or online.
The Local Government Secretary, Robert Jenrick, MP invited locally-led proposals for the restructure of local government in Somerset to establish unitary local government.
Somerset County Council and Somerset’s District Councils each submitted their own proposals in December 2020. The Government conducted a consultation on these proposals, which ended on 19 April 2021.
On 30 April Somerset West and Taunton, along with the three other district councils in Somerset, agreed to hold a local poll on the two options for change now being considered by the Local Government Secretary.
The District Council Leaders have written to the Local Government Secretary to inform him of the poll and its dates and ask that the result of the poll be properly considered as part of the decision-making process on the future of local government in Somerset.
What’s at issue?
Residents and businesses in Somerset are currently served by a two-tier system of local government. Somerset County Council is responsible for services such as adult and children’s social care, maintaining roads and libraries, and the District Councils – Mendip, Sedgemoor, Somerset West and Taunton and South Somerset - are responsible for services such as rubbish collection, housing and planning and environmental health.
Under the proposals for change, a single tier of local government would replace this system, with a unitary council delivering all local government services for the area.
Under the county council plan, a single council would be responsible for all services across the area covered by the four districts and the county council.
Under the District Council plan, two unitary councils would be established, one for Western Somerset and one for Eastern Somerset.
The Government asked that each proposal should set out how it would improve local government and service delivery, give greater value for money, generate savings, provide stronger strategic and local leadership, and more sustainable structures.