It will now be for the Secretary of State to consider the submission, which stems from the decisions made by both councils last year to start discussions with Government on a merger. The submission is based on the business case presented last year, and includes feedback received during the consultation.
The submission shows strong support for the proposal from other local authorities, partners in the health service and education as well as key members of the business and voluntary sectors.
“We have, following the democratic decision last summer, now submitted our proposal to the Secretary of State” said council leaders John Williams (Taunton Deane) and Anthony Trollope-Bellew (West Somerset).
“It is now for the Secretary of State to decide, taking into account all the facts from our business case, and the representations made. 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, and ultimately financially viable local government provision in our area in the future.
“This new council will make sure we can continue to deliver the services that our residents value, and to allow 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 recently awarded to Taunton.”
The submission takes an in-depth look at the journey the two Councils have taken since agreeing a formal partnership in December 2012. Staff have been brought together as a single team and savings of £1.8m per annum delivered for the last three years as a result.
But the financial challenges remain. The Councils are confident that as a single, new council working in a modern and streamlined way, can deliver at least £3.1m of savings that can be re-invested in providing vital, front-line services. The investment to achieve this will be repaid by the savings achieved in under three years.
The submission to the Secretary of State sets out the approach to new ways of working, eliminating duplication and cutting red tape and how a single, new Council would continue to represent residents in the combined geographical area.
“This report captures the formal resolutions of both councils to progress discussions with the Secretary of State in relation to creating a new Council for our area, using his powers under the 2016 Cities and Local Government Devolution Act.
“On behalf of our Councils, we request the Secretary of State to consider and support our proposal,” said the Leaders.
The report and supporting documents, including feedback from the consultation, will be published on the dedicated website: www.yournewcouncil.org
Released jointly on behalf of Taunton Deane Borough Council and West Somerset Council
Debbie Rundle Media & Communications officer 01823 356407 or 01984 635280