Joint statement from the Leaders of Mendip District Council, Sedgemoor District Council, Somerset County Council, Somerset West & Taunton Council, and South Somerset District Council:
Over the past 18 months, Somerset’s four district councils and Somerset County Council have been exploring together the future options for local government in the county. The aim of the review is to determine the best way of delivering local public services and meeting community needs in Somerset in the future. The aim has not been to simply cut costs, the intention has been to find a way, through the better use of our resources, to sustain vital services now and for the future.
Following extensive research which has been evaluated to ensure the benefits and implications of any possible changes are understood, the Leaders of all the councils have been determining the best possible option for Somerset.
We are now convinced that staying purely to our own paths is not an option and that we can collectively do better. Service needs across Somerset are evolving, demand is increasing, and a new collaborative delivery strategy is needed.
Today, we are happy to release the initial findings from research which was conducted to assess Local Government delivery in Somerset and a range of options for change.
Working together for the communities of Somerset
Why are changes to Local Government in Somerset being considered?
On Wednesday 2 May 2018, Somerset County Council announced its intention to start a conversation with the district councils and other partners to explore what model of local government could be a better way to deliver public services in Somerset.
All the councils in Somerset recognise the need for change in local government in Somerset and have committed to working together on a joint review of this.
Who is involved?
Mendip District Council, Sedgemoor District Council, Somerset County Council, South Somerset District Council, Somerset West & Taunton Council have all been part of the initial conversation with both North Somerset Council and Bath & North East Somerset Council also playing a part in the discussion.
What has happened to date?
The four district councils and Somerset County Council have been working together to assess Local Government delivery in Somerset and a range of options for change. Our residents and business are at the heart of that conversation and this is about creating a system of Local Government that works more efficiently for them. The options for change will looked at a range of scenarios for how services can be transformed in different structures and ways of working of local government in Somerset.
A consortium involving Ignite – together with Collaborate, Pixel Financial Management and De Montfort University – was selected to undertake research into this broad range of options for the future of local government in Somerset from a variety of perspectives including community benefits and financial efficiency. Following their initial research, an internal team drawn from the five councils of Somerset has been undertaking further work on the options to help finalise the research. The Ignite report is what is being released today.
How much is this going to cost?
The review is being taken forward as a piece of work jointly commissioned and paid for by all councils in Somerset. The cost of the work with the consortium was £167,000 split evenly between the five councils of Somerset. No further budget has been set at this time.
How long is it going to take?
A precise timeline for the review cannot be given at this time until the scope and details of the possible options have been agreed.