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“We will not be silenced,” say Somerset poll supporters

| District

With a week left to vote, supporters of the local poll on options for change in local government in Somerset gathered in Taunton to encourage people to have their say.

The poll has been commissioned by the four district councils of Somerset, but the County Council, although invited, is refusing to take part and has called for the poll to be declared null and void.

Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts said: “We have put our faith in the voters of Somerset to make up their own minds by organising a local poll, independently run and verified. Others have taken every opportunity to discredit the poll, to stifle debate, to deflect challenge. They don’t want you to vote and don’t want to listen to you.”

“This decision will make a difference to everyone,” said Cllr Gill Slocombe. “It will change who is accountable for collecting our bins, maintaining roads and pavements, parks, housing and loads of other local services. It will change how we are represented. We are the ones affected and we are the ones who should have a direct say in this decision. The people’s choice must be respected.”

Stronger Somerset campaigners outside County Hall offices in Taunton

Photograph: Cllr Adam Dance, Executive Member, South Somerset District Council Cllr Gill Slocombe, Deputy Leader, Sedgemoor District Council Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts, Leader, Somerset West and Taunton Council Cllr Ros Wyke, Leader, Mendip District Council Joined by campaigners in favour of a local poll on options for change in local government in Somerset

“The County Council is acting like this decision is already done and dusted and they will be taking charge of everything,” said Cllr Adam Dance. “They are acting like our votes don’t matter. Well, we won’t be silenced, and we won’t be ignored. We will have our say and we will be heard in Westminster.”

“This poll can send a clear message about what the people of Somerset think,” said Cllr Ros Wyke. “The government consultation was open to anyone, anywhere and they were more interested in talking to Bristol City Council than local people. I want to know that my view counts fairly and equally alongside everyone else’s. Only a proper vote can achieve that. I hope everyone takes part.”

The poll is being independently run and verified by Civica Electoral Services. All electors in the areas covered by the four district councils of Somerset and the county council have been sent voter packs. Votes must be received by Friday 4 June.

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