Petition fight against unitary bid

DISTRICT councils in Somerset have set up two major petitions to step up their campaign against a single unitary authority. Somerset County Council has bid for single unitary status which would see the five district councils - Sedgemoor, Mendip, Taunton

DISTRICT councils in Somerset have set up two major petitions to step up their campaign against a single unitary authority. Somerset County Council has bid for single unitary status which would see the five district councils - Sedgemoor, Mendip, Taunton Deane, West Somerset and South Somerset - scrapped. District council leaders launched the two petitions on Tuesday. The first is an internet-based petition aimed at persuading the Prime Minister to reject the county council's proposal. The petition is available at http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/Supersize/ and has been approved by the Prime Minister's website team.As some people do not have access to the internet, the district councils have also launched a hard copy petition. It is available in shops, offices and other buildings all over Somerset, and residents are being urged to collect copies to get their friends, colleagues and neighbours to sign. Sedgemoor District Council leader Duncan McGinty said: "We have little more than 10 weeks left to persuade the Government that the county council's plans for a mammoth single council covering the whole of Somerset would be more expensive, more bureaucratic and more remote. "Somerset people face the loss of all sorts of local services like pubs, post offices and petrol stations. Now they face the loss of their local councils too. We cannot allow this to happen."A Government white paper, released in 2006, invited authorities all over the country to bid for unitary status and put forward proposals by January. At the end of March, Somerset was announced as one of the authorities short-listed for consideration. A final announcement will be made in July. The Government is expected to accept eight or nine proposals.


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