SSDC backs Stronger Somerset as councillors agree it’s the best choice for county
South Somerset District Council has given its overwhelming support to a bold new plan for real change in local government.
Stronger Somerset is the result of months of detailed research, planning and consultation from our own councils, experts in Somerset and across the UK.
Today, South Somerset District Council’s elected members gave their backing to the joint plan - created by Somerset’s four district councils - which sets out major and ambitious reform for local government in Somerset to create a better future.
South Somerset District Council Leader Val Keitch said: “This is such a momentous day as we take a huge step towards creating a stronger future for Somerset.
“This isn’t about politics. It’s not about power. It’s not about saving money. It’s about a genuine ambition to make a positive difference to the lives of everyone in Somerset. It's also about ensuring the hard-working staff delivering services across the county can achieve even better outcomes.
“I will do all I can to ensure we have a system of local Government which is genuinely focused on the needs of its communities so that everyone, young and old, has the opportunity to live well. We need better jobs, better investment, a greener Somerset and a county where communities not only have services which are focused on their specific needs, but still have a voice which can be heard.
“I am convinced that this is what Stronger Somerset will deliver and we will work with our residents, businesses and partners to ensure that the Government hears our message loud and clear.
“Ministers want a unitary solution for Somerset. The question now is what type of unitary do we want? And the answer is obvious due to the level of support we’re receiving from so many people. Stronger Somerset will help us build the county we deserve.”
The district authorities worked together on the Stronger Somerset plan which focuses on extensive reform of the way councils work and an end to the current two-tier system of local government with county and district councils.
It proposes the creation of two new unitary councils – East and West - with a combined authority and an ambition to drive even wider collaboration which will lead to the creation of high-skilled jobs, improvements in care and public health, more opportunities for our young people, and extra investment to drive meaningful change.
A formal invitation from the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, to submit our Stronger Somerset case is expected shortly.
The councils are engaging with organisations and communities across Somerset to help further shape Stronger Somerset ahead of a public consultation which is expected later this autumn.
To find out more about Stronger Somerset, see all the details of our proposals and to provide your feedback, visit www.strongersomerset.co.uk. You can also keep up to date on Twitter and Facebook @strongsomerset.
South Somerset District Council’s district executive committee and full council met on Thursday 10 September to discuss the draft Stronger Somerset business case. It was recommended unanimously by the district executive and approved by large majority at full council.
South Somerset District Council has 60 members and the final decision went to a recorded vote:
For (38): Cllrs J Baker, M Best, D Bulmer, T Capozzoli, J Clark, N Clark, L Clarke, A Dance, S Dyke, K Gill, D Gubbins, P Gubbins, B Hamilton, M Hewitson, B Hodgson, C Hull, K Hussain, V Keitch, A Kendall, J Kenton, T Kerley, T Lock, P Maxwell, K Messenger, T O’Brien, R Pailthorpe, O Patrick, W Read, D Recardo, P Rowsell, D Ruddle, P Seib, G Shortland, J Snell, A Soughton, M Stanton, R Stickland, G Tucker
Against (13): R Bastable, N Bloomfield, H Burt, N Colbert, M Lewis, S Osborne, T Osborne, C Paul, G Seaton, L Trimnell, L Vijeh, M Wale, C Winder
There were no abstentions.
Apologies (9): M Carnell, M Cavill, H Hobhouse, M Lock, P Lock, G Oakes, C Raikes, A Smith, W Wallace
This means South Somerset District Council agreed to:
- Approve the Business Case for the reform of local government including the creation of two unitary Councils within Somerset.
- Delegate authority to the Leader of the Council and the Chief Executive, in consultation with the other Somerset District Leaders and Chief Executives, to make minor amendments to the Business Case as necessary and / or appropriate, ahead of its submission to the Secretary of State.
- Support the continuing consultation with local stakeholders, above and beyond any programme of consultation that may be required by the Government in due course.
- Note that in the best interests of the communities and residents of South Somerset, the Council will continue to work with colleagues across all tiers of local government and public service in Somerset.