Could Weston split from North Somerset?

PUBLISHED: 10:00 28 January 2010 | UPDATED: 11:38 25 May 2010

WESTON could be better off going it alone with its own independent council, according to a former senior councillor.

WESTON could be better off going it alone with its own independent council, according to a former senior councillor.

Senior citizens' forum chairman Ken Lacey says the town could withdraw from North Somerset and form its own unitary authority or borough.

If the plan went ahead the town would have to levy its own council tax and provide all the services currently managed by North Somerset Council.

Mr Lacey says he feels Weston has been overlooked by the unitary authority over issues such as its purchase of new offices in Clevedon.

He said: "If it was possible to get a borough council back and get Weston out of North Somerset it would have an enormous impact on the rest of the district.

"We are very important to North Somerset and could survive without them, but whether they would do so well without us is another matter."

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said it would be possible if either the Boundaries Committee for England or North Somerset Council initiated the move, which would take about a year to complete.

However, a spokesman for the unitary authority said it would be unlikely to start such proceedings.

Such a plan might find favour with opponents of the regime in charge of North Somerset Council, who have accused the current executive of having an 'anti-Weston' agenda.

Mr Lacey, who was a long-serving district councillor and was instrumental in setting up Weston Town Council, also says so-called 'dual-hatted' councillors should not be allowed.

Of the 31 members of the town authority, 17 are also serving as district councillors.

Mr Lacey said: "In recent times it has become clear that the members of Weston Town Council have been voting for the ends of their political masters on North Somerset.

"When I set up the town council I thought it would have members voting for the best of the town only, but that can't always happen in you have North Somerset councillors serving on it too."

Town council leader Andrew Horler, who serves on both authorities, said: "Unfortunately not enough people put themselves forward to become a councillor to enable the councils to be completely separate.

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