Plans to merge Somerset councils under single authority in debate
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Ambitious plans to create a single Somerset council have been debated at a key meeting.
A unitary authority which encompasses five councils in the county, including merging Sedgemoor and Mendip district administrations, was discussed at the county’s Scrutiny Policies and Place Committee meeting on July 15.
The One Somerset business case was debated by county councillors – around 30 questions were answered, and all recommendations were agreed.
The business case has been approved by the Somerset cabinet in a vote this week, which will go to full council on July 29 for a final decision on whether to submit the plans to the Secretary of State.
Somerset County Council leader David Fothergill said: “Everyone agrees the current situation is a mess and we have to do something to meet the challenges which are coming over the next 5-10 years.
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“My view is clear, but it’s important to discuss the various options openly and transparently so everyone can make up their own minds. It was fantastic to hear the debate on July 15, and I’m pleased it passed the first test with flying colours.
“I would encourage everyone to visit our website, read the business case, ask questions, have your say and play a part in shaping Somerset’s future.”
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Somerset County Council, after detailed analysis of costs and savings using available evidence, estimates savings of £18.5m per year to the authority, with one-off implementation costs of £16.5m.
Over five years, the expected savings are £52.6m.
The council says this is money which can be spent on local issues and challenges including caring for the most vulnerable residents, delivering life chances for children and young people, and reducing rural isolation and loneliness.
The authority can also spend the additional savings on delivering housing each community needs and addressing climate change.
To find out more about the One Somerset model and have your say on the plans, visit www.onesomerset.org.uk.
Paper copies of the survey will also be distributed to homes across the county in the latest Your Somerset newsletter.
People can follow the campaign on Twitter @One1Somerset and on Facebook @OneSomerset