3, 2018 Video:
County Council boss says unitary shake-up could save £28m
District Council says it is "surprised and disappointed"
with an announcement from Somerset County Council that it is considering
becoming a unitary authority.
comes as the leader of Somerset County Council has this week said
the possible abolition of district councils in the county could
save between £18m and £28m each year.
a bid to protect frontline services, Cllr David Fothergill (who
is shown in the video) has asked for work to begin to look at
how a unitary arrangement could work in the county.
would see the abolition of all six local authorities in the county
- including the county council - and replacing them with a smaller
number of single-tier authorities, or potentially just one authority.
council leader says that it would allow services and functions to
work together in a more joined-up way and provide a far more powerful
voice for the county to speak up for Somerset at Government level.
Sedgemoor District Council - which would be abolished - has attacked
the forefront of all our considerations will be what is best for
the residents of Sedgemoor and the wider Somerset communities,"
says spokeswoman Claire Faun.
the last debate on this subject was ten years ago, the business
case for one or more unitary authorities for the geographical area
of Somerset was not proven, nor wanted by the community. A referendum
was held and 84% of the respondents voted No."
recognise that Somerset County Council have severe financial pressures
and have offered help by devolution of various services to districts.
SDC reiterates its long-held position of never turning down an income
generation or cost reduction opportunity without first considering
any business case."
would mean proper, thorough and meaningful dialogue with all councils,
their elected members and our MPs about how to move forward constructively
in a timely fashion, where the interests of the communities are
at the heart of the way forward. Sedgemoor District Council is performing
well, delivering excellent services and a sound financial basis."
idea has been met with mixed responses with one councillor saying
it would mean getting "turkeys to vote for Christmas".
David Fothergill said: "At a time of unprecedented financial
pressures on all councils we are all looking at different ways to
be more efficient, make savings and protect the front-line services
that our residents value so much."
believe that we owe it to our residents to look at this option too."
want start the ball rolling on work to establish the benefits and
costs of such a change so that we can all make an informed decision
as to whether a unitary model is the right way to go."
said savings from introducing a single-authority would include £500,000
per year by moving from five chief executives to one, and about
£1m per year by reducing the number of councillors covering
the county by about half from the current 300.
savings would come through reducing the number of HR, customer services
and finance teams, and reducing the number of IT and utilities contracts
and transport costs.
Conservative leaders of West Somerset and Taunton Deane said they
were prepared to discuss the idea, while the Liberal Democrat leader
of South Somerset described the news as "a bombshell"
and said "none of us [district council leaders] want to go
down this route but we have to put the people of Somerset first".
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