A new single council for Somerset would put an end to confusion for residents, give greater powers to local communities and free up millions of pounds that can be reinvested in frontline services – that’s according to a new report out today.
The business case for One Somerset, published today by Somerset County Council, highlights a number of clear benefits from scrapping all five existing councils and setting up a new single authority.
- One council listening to the needs and concerns of residents, parishes and businesses, providing clear accountability.
- One point of contact for all local services, ending confusion and frustration for the public.
- One council but with 15 to 20 new Local Community Networks (LCNs) established in every corner of Somerset to give local people the chance to shape their own communities. These will have real constitutional powers to scrutinise, impact and take decisions.
- Detailed analysis of costs and savings using all the available evidence shows expected savings of £18.5m per year, with one off implementation costs of £16.5m. Over five years the expected savings are £52.6m. This is money which instead can be spent on real local issues and challenges including:
- Caring for our most vulnerable residents
- Delivering life chances for our children and young people
- Reducing rural isolation and loneliness
- Delivering the housing each community needs
- Investing in climate change
- Boosting economic growth, jobs and apprenticeships.
Somerset County Council Leader David Fothergill said: “The concept of district council services and county council services is confusing, cumbersome and costly. That is why so many other counties, including most of our neighbours, have switched to a single council model. We must not get left behind.
“But don’t take my word for it. Please take some time to look at the comprehensive business case which sets out exactly what we stand to gain from starting afresh with one single council.
“Now is the time to end the confusion for our residents and businesses, give greater powers and responsibilities to our communities, and free up funds to spend on vital services and tackle key issues.”
To find out more about the One Somerset model, read the business case, and to have your say on the plans, please visit www.onesomerset.org.uk. Paper copies of the survey will also be distributed to homes across the county in the latest Your Somerset newsletter. You can stay up to date with the campaign on Twitter @One1Somerset and on Facebook @OneSomerset.