Wellington Town Councillors are set to examine the idea of a radical reorganisation of local government made by the Leader of Somerset County Council, Councillor David Fothergill.
Councillor Fothergill’s proposal would mean the abolition of the six local authorities in the county – including Taunton Deane – and the creation of either a single authority or a smaller number of single tier authorities.
In his Press Release Councillor 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 frontline services that our residents value so much. I believe that we owe it to our residents to look at this option too.
“I 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.
“This hasn’t been looked at for 10 years and the circumstances for local government have changed dramatically since then. The time is right to look at this again.
“No-one can deny that a unitary model has huge potential for efficiencies, savings and reduction in duplication and bureaucracy.”
It is estimated that bringing together responsibilities and reducing duplication could save between £18m and £28m a year across the county:
– Savings of £500k per year by moving from five Chief Executives to one.
– Savings of around £1m per year by reducing the number of councillors covering the county by around 50 per cent from the current 300.
– Moving from multiple back office teams such as HR, Customer Services and Finance to create a more efficient and slimmed down system – likely savings in the millions of pounds.
– Moving from multiple contracts such as IT systems, utilities, and transport costs – likely savings in the millions of pounds
No consideration was given in the Press Release to likely job cuts or the effect on local councils. Currently, Wellington Town Council has 17 politically elected Councillors, of whom 7 are also Taunton Deane Borough Councillors. Three are Somerset County Councillors.
Wellington Town Council is to meet on 8th May at 5.15pm in The United Reform Church, Fore Street, Wellington.