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Stronger Somerset Poll

Thursday 26th November, 2020

Poll reveals that twice as many residents would back Stronger Somerset than One Somerset as districts’ plan for a better future is finalised

More Somerset residents would back Stronger Somerset as the right solution for a better future than Somerset County Council’s vision for a single council according to the early results from an independent poll.

Ipsos Mori, one of the world’s leading research companies, has been surveying a representative sample of 2,000 residents across the county regarding the future of local government and how vital services should be provided.

When asked how the councils of Somerset might be restructured, which of the following four options they most prefer – a system featuring an Eastern Somerset council and Western Somerset council (Stronger Somerset), a single council covering the whole of the country (One Somerset), no change, or greater collaboration between existing councils – the district councils’ vision of a fresh start for the county featuring two new unitary authorities came out on top – twice as many residents said they would support Stronger Somerset than One Somerset.

Additionally, when those who showed no preference towards any of the re-organisation options and answered “no change” were asked to make a choice between Stronger Somerset and One Somerset, 58% backed the two unitary council proposal with just 20% favouring a one council model.

The early findings also show that significantly more residents are currently satisfied with public services provided by district councils than Somerset County Council (67% versus 45%), that residents generally understand which councils are currently responsible for providing certain public services, and that the majority of people believe there is a clear distinction between the west and east of the county.

The full report will be released shortly when the data has been verified.

The positive news comes as the Stronger Somerset proposal is finalised, ready to be considered by councils ahead of submission to the Government.

It has been further shaped in recent weeks by excellent and informative feedback from residents, representatives of the NHS, charities, community volunteers, town & parish councils, carers and many more who have participated in more than 20 engagement sessions.

In addition to the engagement sessions, thousands of residents of Somerset have engaged with Stronger Somerset through the website and social media.

Your views have helped further develop a number of areas of the plan including:

  • How vital adult care and health will be delivered across the county through the new Eastern and Western Somerset councils including increased investment
  • How education and children’s services will be provided including how children’s services will be strengthened
  • What will be achieved in terms of climate action and devolution
  • How the two new councils’ relationship with towns, parishes and communities will work so that local communities can be empowered to take forward their priorities & ambitions

In a joint statement, the Leaders of Somerset’s four district councils said: “We are committed to creating the best possible future for Somerset, its people and its communities.

“This always had to be a plan which we developed with our communities, the NHS, police, carers and more and this is why we have been engaging in every way we can during the current restrictions.

“It’s incredibly positive to see from the feedback we’ve received, and the early findings of the Ipsos Mori poll, that so many people believe that our vision for the future is one which they support by such a clear margin.

“One of the Government’s key tests is to demonstrate public support and it is clear that we have it.

“This has never been about politics. This has always been about ensuring we create a system of local government that is fit for purpose and focused wholly on the needs of its residents and communities.

“We are proud of our plan which is ambitious for the area and people we serve and sets a blue print for improving the life of everyone and protecting services. It is our plan for a Stronger Somerset.”

All the latest news and information, including key documents, relating to Stronger Somerset can be found at www.strongersomerset.co.uk and you can also follow us on social media on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

The latest version of the business case and other associated documents can be found here – www.strongersomerset.co.uk/case-for-change

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