Village will 'not stand a chance'

CHEDDAR, Axbridge, Wedmore and Shipham will become 'forgotten villages' if a unitary authority is given the go-ahead, it has been claimed

CHEDDAR, Axbridge, Wedmore and Shipham will become 'forgotten villages' if a unitary authority is given the go-ahead, it has been claimed.Councillors in the area say remote villages will be forgotten if Somerset County Council wins its bid to form a single-tier authority and devolves Sedgemoor District Council. Sedgemoor district councillor Peter Downing said: "The single authority would be based in Taunton, which is about as far as you can get from Shipham, which is right in the north of Sedgemoor."Services would be focused on bigger towns and cities such as Taunton, Yeovil and Bridgwater. Tiny rural areas such as Wedmore and Shipham wouldn't stand a chance."Democracy would be very poorly served if this unitary bid was to go ahead."Somerset County Council submitted its bid for unitary status, which would see the end of Sedgemoor, Mendip, Taunton Deane, West Somerset and South Somerset district councils, in January this year. If Somerset did become a unitary, elections would be held in May 2008 and councillors would work together for a year, until the district councils started to fall down and end in May 2009. The unitary authority would serve the area from Frome to Minehead and from Burnham to Chard, an area the same size as Luxembourg. The district council feels this area would be too large and remote from local communities.County, district and parish councillor, Dawn Hill, who lives in Cheddar, said: "I think a unitary authority would be very bad for the people of Somerset. At least with the district councils the money we've raised goes into the local area, whereas if it goes into a joint pot, Taunton and Yeovil will get all the money."In a statement on its website, Somerset County Council says it has a duty to things it thinks are best for the people of Somerset and the unitary authority will mean less confusion about how services are accessed and council tax savings. The Government is expected to announce the final list of successful council bids at the end of July. Experts believe the announcement will come on Wednesday, as Parliament closes for summer on Thursday.

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