National and Devolved Politics


Javid minded to approve Somerset councils’ merger

A proposal to merge two Somerset councils has received initial approval from the secretary for communities and local government.

Sajid Javid said he was “minded to” implement the locally led merger between Taunton Deane Borough Council and West Somerset District Council, in Somerset.

The secretary of state said the plans – which propose to create a single district council – were in line with the criteria he has previously set out for these situations.

“I am satisfied, on the basis of the information currently available to me, that each of these proposals fully meets the criteria that I told the House on 7 November 2017 I would use for assessing proposals for merging district councils,” Javid explained.

There are three conditions that must be met for these mergers to receive approval, including reassurances that change will improve local government in the areas concerned.

Javid has also said the plans have to receive local support with all the councils which could be merged being involved in the proposal, adding that the authorities involved are in geographically adjacent areas which can correctly facilitate the combination of services.

In a joint statement between the leaders of both councils, Cllr John Williams (Taunton Deane) and Cllr Anthony Trollope-Bellew (West Somerset) said they “welcomed the secretary’s announcement.”

“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,” they commented.

“Our proposal will deliver further savings, service improvements and resilience, stronger leadership and improved local governance. Ultimately, it will deliver financially viable local government services in our area in the future.

“This new council will make sure we can continue to deliver the services that our residents value, allowing us to focus on boosting our economy, supporting the delivery of the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power station and fully embracing the opportunity afforded by Garden Town status awarded to Taunton.”

Initially, the merger was also expected to include Sedgemoor District Council, but councillors decided not to join with the plans because they felt they had been given too little time to consider the business case.

This left Taunton Deane and West Somerset to finalise plans in September last year, with both councils looking to shorten funding gaps totalling more than £3m by 2021-22. They expect a merger of this sort to save around the same amount of money through combining services and improving economies of scale.

Javid revealed that there would be a period between now and 19 January 2018 which would be set aside for the government to receive modifications on the implementation of the plans.

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become a PSE columnist? If so, click here.


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment


public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

Welsh Government announces plans to cut the number of councils

22/03/2018Welsh Government announces plans to cut the number of councils

The Welsh Government has revealed plans this week to reduce the number of authorities in the country to just 10. Ministers say the plans wou... more >
Error means DWP ESA payments could be paying out £830m more than expected by 2022-23

22/03/2018Error means DWP ESA payments could be paying out £830m more than expected by 2022-23

An error in payments from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) means that it will need to pay between £570m to £830m more than ex... more >
Javid: Attempts to ‘claw back’ business rates overpayments would have ‘significant negative impact’

21/03/2018Javid: Attempts to ‘claw back’ business rates overpayments would have ‘significant negative impact’

Sajid Javid has called for an independent review of the processes that led to an overpayment of business rates to local councils. In a letter to... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this... read more >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the o... more > more last word articles >
Leader resigns after Whitehall report calls for failing council to be split up

16/03/2018Leader resigns after Whitehall report calls for failing council to be split up

The leader of Northamptonshire County Council has announced her resignation after a government report recommended the impoverished authority should be split into two smaller unitary councils. ... more >
Javid ‘minded to’ approve unitary plans for Buckinghamshire

12/03/2018Javid ‘minded to’ approve unitary plans for Buckinghamshire

Sajid Javid has today announced that he is minded to approve plans which would see a large unitary authority created from the six existing authorities in Buckinghamshire. Under the current p... more >

the raven's daily blog

Apprenticeship levy – five myths busted

05/03/2018Apprenticeship levy – five myths busted

On the first day of National Apprenticeship Week 2018 (NAW 2018), the director of the National Apprenticeship Service, Sue Husband, challenges some of the key myths around the apprenticeship levy. NAW 2018 takes place from 5 to 9 March. It will be a week-long celebration of apprenticeships in England designed to showcase how apprenti... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >


Building a more diverse society

05/03/2018Building a more diverse society

Karl Wilding, policy director at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), argues that diverse membership in charities and local g... more >
Developing our future leaders

05/03/2018Developing our future leaders

Kerry Bishop, apprenticeship and qualification development manager at the LGSS (pictured), provides an insight into how the organisation is suppo... more >
What's next for BIM?

05/03/2018What's next for BIM?

After some mostly positive findings in last year’s National Building Information Modelling (BIM) Report, PSE’s Luana Salles considers... more >
BIM: Reaping the rewards

26/02/2018BIM: Reaping the rewards

Although austerity has been a barrier to adopting Building Information Modelling (BIM), continued investment in these tools can greatly benefit t... more >


Keeping London safe

05/03/2018Keeping London safe

Theo Blackwell, London’s first-ever chief digital officer (CDO), speaks to PSE’s Luana Salles about the role he plays in ensuring the... more >
BIM: Digitising the public sector

19/02/2018BIM: Digitising the public sector

PSE’s Josh Mines talks to Stephen Crompton, CTO at GroupBC, and Stuart Bell, the company’s sales and marketing director, about how Bu... more >
Duncan Selbie: The energy of devolution

19/02/2018Duncan Selbie: The energy of devolution

The NHS plays a part in keeping the country well – but when it comes to places and their people, local government has a major role to fulfi... more >
Are we taking a risk on education?

14/12/2017Are we taking a risk on education?

Adrian Prandle, director of economic strategy and negotiations at the National Education Union (NEU), questions the stark lack of announcements a... more >

public sector focus

View all News