Ambitious plans to create a new single council for Somerset passed their first public test today following debate at a key meeting.
The One Somerset business case was discussed for the first time by Somerset County Councillors at today’s meeting of Scrutiny Policies and Place Committee. Around 30 questions were asked and answered and all recommendations were agreed.
The business case will now go to Cabinet for a vote next week and if approved will go to Full Council on 29th July for a final decision on whether to submit to the Secretary of State.
Somerset County Council Leader David Fothergill said: “Everyone agrees the current situation is a mess and we have to do something to meet the challenges which are coming over the next 5-10 years.
“My view is clear, but it’s important to discuss the various options openly and transparently so everyone can make up their own minds.
“It was fantastic to hear the debate today and I’m pleased it passed the first test with flying colours. I would encourage everyone to visit our website, read the business case, ask questions, have your say – and play a part in shaping Somerset’s future.”
The comprehensive One Somerset business case highlights the many benefits of scrapping all five councils and replacing with a new single council. These include
• 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:
o Caring for our most vulnerable residents
o Delivering life chances for our children and young people
o Reducing rural isolation and loneliness
o Delivering the housing each community needs
o Investing in climate change
To find out more about the One Somerset model, read the business case, and to have your say on the plans, please visit http://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.
Submitted by Communications