The controversial merger of Taunton Deane and West Somerset councils is set to go ahead after Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said he was “minded” to allow the plan after a period of further representation until 19 January 2018 and Parliamentary approval.
At a stormy meeting in January this year Wellington town council voted 6-4 to write to TDBC opposing the merger. “It’s a dreadful idea that will swallow millions of pounds that could have been spent on local infrastructure,” commented Cllr Andy Govier. “West Somerset is too small to be viable and Taunton has decided to rescue it. It’s road to disaster for Wellington and Taunton.”
However, council leaders in both district councils have welcomed the Government decision. In a joint statement, the Leaders – Cllrs John Williams (Taunton Deane) and Anthony Trollope-Bellew (West Somerset) – said: “We welcome the Secretary of State’s announcement that he is minded to approve the proposal for a single new council.
“We have the support of partners, other councils in Somerset, key players in business and the voluntary sector – all play a vital part in the life of our two areas.
“Our proposal will deliver further savings, service improvements and resilience, stronger leadership and improved local governance. Ultimately it will deliver financially viable local government services in our area in the future.
“This new council will make sure we can continue to deliver the services that our residents value, and allowing us to focus on boosting our economy, supporting the delivery of Hinkley Point C new nuclear power station and fully embracing the opportunity afforded by Garden Town status awarded to Taunton.
“We must also build on great natural assets that exist – Exmoor National Park, the coastline, Quantock and Blackdown Hills and the Somerset Levels”