A UNITED SOMERSET
The Somerset Guardian, 24th March 2021
Recently, the Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government wrote to me regarding the Government’s plans for the locally led reorganisation of local government. Ian Liddell-Grainger, M.P. for Bridgwater and West Somerset and I jointly responded to the consultation this week.
We informed the Minister that we do not support Somerset County Council’s idea for ‘One Somerset’ as the proposal fails to include the whole of the historic county of Somerset. A different scheme, ‘Stronger Somerset’ has been presented by the four district councils to create two new unitary authorities but seek to work closely with the two existing unitary councils. This is also not a perfect option but its engagement with the whole county is positive.
Instead, we have asked the Government to consider the idea that all unitary authorities in the historic county of Somerset are conjoined into a single body. Such a move would be far more cost-effective and significantly increase payroll savings and critically, a single body to represent the whole historic county would offer clarity to regional decision-making and generate a stronger, united case to central government.
Generally, power is better exercised closer to the people and should enhance administrative ability through local knowledge and understanding. However, there is a caveat: administrative areas need to match communities otherwise their legitimacy is reduced. We must also to remember that populations’ emotional attachments and loyalties are essential to creating stable administrations; the abolishment of Avon is an excellent example of this since no-one mourned its loss.
Once more, our county is under threat from divisive proposals. We are doing our level best to ensure that our constituents do not lose out, yet again and have implored the Government to consider that a united Somerset, including every geographical region within the historic county, is what is needed to optimise local prosperity.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any assistance: firstname.lastname@example.org.