District council could go in unitary bid

SEDGEMOOR District Council could be scrapped if plans to form a unitary authority for Somerset are given the go-ahead. At a Somerset County Council meeting on Wednesday, councillors will consider a proposal to make a single tier Government for the county

SEDGEMOOR District Council could be scrapped if plans to form a unitary authority for Somerset are given the go-ahead. At a Somerset County Council meeting on Wednesday, councillors will consider a proposal to make a single tier Government for the county. The announcement follows a Government white paper which contained a proposal inviting local authorities to bid for a single tier or unitary system of local Government. Somerset currently has a county council, which is responsible for things such as schools, libraries, museums, emergency planning, most county roads, some planning, recycling and trading standards. District councils are responsible for services such as the collection of council tax, housing and parks. If the county had a unitary authority, all these responsibilities would come under one single authority. Somerset County Council leader, Cathy Bakewell, said: "I believe the county council needs to take a bold step in bidding for unitary status."Sedgemoor chief executive Kerry Rickards said: "I feel it is an absolute total distraction to what we should be doing, which is providing high quality, low cost services. In my view this will cost about £20million and these transitional costs will probably come from scrapped jobs across the district."The regional secretary of UNISON, Ian Ducat, said: "We are appalled at the absence of any consultations with the union or staff. Our office only found out about the plans from the local press."Somerset County Council was part of the second wave of local authorities in the UK to sign up to local area agreements, designed to explore ways of making local Government a single tier. The outcome of the bid is expected to be announced in June.