Unitary council could cost taxpayers £53 each

EVERY taxpayer in Somerset will have to shell out £53 for the cost of council reorganisation - according to a retired professor. Ex-Cambridge boffin Michael Chisholm claims each resident will have to foot the bill of reorganisation, which could amount to

EVERY taxpayer in Somerset will have to shell out £53 for the cost of council reorganisation - according to a retired professor. Ex-Cambridge boffin Michael Chisholm claims each resident will have to foot the bill of reorganisation, which could amount to £35.5million in total. Prof Chisholm said: "The figures circulated by Somerset County Council look to be inconsistent and implausible."Somerset County Council will vote on January 22 to decide whether or not to bid for a unitary authority status. If the plans go ahead the district councils, including Sedgemoor and Mendip, will be abolished and one authority will be created to cover an area the size of Luxembourg. The leader of Sedgemoor District Council, Duncan McGinty, has expressed a number of concerns over the plans. He says: * Around 500-600 local people will be made redundant. * The chief executive of the unitary authority could expect a pay increase of around £30,000 per annum. * Customer satisfaction levels for Somerset County Council are much lower than the average for all district councils in the area. * The cost of running one large council covering the whole of Somerset should reduce costs, but the Government will then take the saving and re-direct it to other parts of the country. Somerset council taxpayers should still expect their bills to go up.l Local representation will be badly damaged - 55 per cent of locally elected councillors will be lost.Cllr McGinty added: "Unitary status would mean a 60 per cent cut in the number of elected councillors to just 116. How can 116 people in an area the size of Luxembourg and with a population of 517,000 represent the public at grass roots level? It would be laughable if it wasn't real."Somerset County Council leader Cathy Bakewell was unavailable for comment but a spokesman for the authority said: "We are currently putting a business case together which will hopefully be released at the end of this week. We will be answering questions then.


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