SSDC's response to exploring Unitary authority for Somerset
Here is a statement on behalf of South Somerset District Council from the Council's Leader Ric Pallister regarding the announcement from Somerset County Council (on 2 May) about exploring the option of a unitary local government:
"I am very disappointed that the County Council did not sit down with the five District Councils to discuss this proposal before publicly announcing it. We all know that County Councils and Unitary Authorities up and down the country are facing enormous financial pressures particularly with the juggernaut of Health and Adult Social Care costs already beginning to spiral out of control.
"This is a major national issue for central Government to tackle and one that cannot be left to local Councils to sort out. Despite this, many Councils are looking at how they can be financially sustainable into the future and so it is inevitable that some form of closer collaborative and integrated working, including a potential unitary solution would form part of that discussion.
SSDC Leader Ric Pallister
"Uppermost in all our minds is what we are all here for - the delivery of high quality, cost effective essential services that the public both want and need whoever currently provides them. South Somerset will of course sit down with the County Council and our other District colleagues to discuss what the next steps should be and there are a considerable range of options.
"Those options must be based on robust business cases that can guarantee the delivery of critical services. The outcome has to be the best one for the communities we serve in South Somerset and for Somerset residents as a whole.
"South Somerset, alongside its District Council partners, has been working extremely hard to meet the severe cuts in Government funding for Local Authorities. In South Somerset, we have not had to cut any services to balance the books and our programme of transforming the Council and increasing our funding through income generation has involved commitment, dedication, professionalism, bravery and a great deal of hard work.
"As those programmes start to deliver, our financial future is looking increasingly optimistic and in any new arrangement, we will strive tirelessly to ensure that South Somerset's financial stability is not derailed in a way that will operate against the best interests of our residents.
"Re-arranging the same deck chairs is not an option for the future."