National and Devolved Politics

12.06.18

Somerset should form three unitary authorities, MP suggests

Bath and North East Somerset Council leader, Tim Warren, has revealed that he would be open to a council merger, backing MP James Heappey’s recent suggestion of forming three new councils.

Writing for the Western Daily Press recently, Heappey suggested that it is time to remove the boundary that runs from Brean Down in the west to Farleigh Hungerford in the east, arguing that the communities and economy of Somerset have changed “immeasurably” since the Somerset was split to form the county of Avon in 1974.

When Somerset County Council proposed forming a unitary authority, Heappey proposed forming three unitary authorities covering the whole of the pre-1974 county.

This would see Sedgemoor merging with North Somerset, Mendip merging with Bath & North East Somerset, and the southern part of the county forming a unitary incorporating South Somerset, Taunton Deane and West Somerset.

Last month, the government gave its seal of approval to the merger of Taunton Deane and West Somerset councils.

The MP said that there is “real merit” to this proposal for many reasons, highlighting that it reflects the way the Somerset economy of many of its public services work.

He argued that while there are “huge tie ups” between Sedgemoor, Bristol University and EDF’s headquarters in Bristol, as the area becomes a leader in clean energy engineering, other part of the county feel the pull of Bristol much less, with fewer businesses connected to those economies and less use of their public service.

Instead, he suggested that it makes sense for the southern part of the county to form a unitary authority that meets the needs of Yeovil, Taunton and the surrounding areas.

Heappey said that this division would allow a “much more sensible approach to devolution” than the deal Somerset has been seeking with Devon, Plymouth and Torbay that he “struggled to understand.”

He continued: “Somerset can’t quite decide whether we’re part of the far South West or whether we’re part of the West of England.

“The reality is that half the county looks north and the other half of the county looks south. My concern is that a county-wide unitary setting our priorities in a devolution deal with Devon, Plymouth and Torbay means the centre of decision making mass is pulled southwards to the disadvantage of the communities I represent along the county’s northern boundary.

“In unitary authority terms, one size cannot fit all.”

Top image: George Clerk

 

Enjoying PSE? Subscribe here to receive our weekly news updates or click here to receive a copy of the magazine!

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

Cabinet member resigns over Birmingham council’s ‘declaration of war’ against staff unions in long-running bins dispute

18/01/2019Cabinet member resigns over Birmingham council’s ‘declaration of war’ against staff unions in long-running bins dispute

Birmingham City Council is seeking a court injunction against refuse workers striking against fortnightly rubbish collections, sparking the cabin... more >
Liverpool City Region mayor proposes ‘metro mayor tax’ to deliver priorities, one year after ruling it out

18/01/2019Liverpool City Region mayor proposes ‘metro mayor tax’ to deliver priorities, one year after ruling it out

Liverpool City Region (LCR) mayor Steve Rotheram has proposed a new ‘metro mayor tax’ a year after ruling out such a move as he unvei... more >
Deal struck in historic 12-year equal pay dispute with Glasgow City Council

18/01/2019Deal struck in historic 12-year equal pay dispute with Glasgow City Council

An agreement has been reached over the long-running and bitter dispute over equal pay at Glasgow City Council, which will see thousands of female... 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 >
Statutory directions lifted as council’s children’s services ‘vastly improved’

09/01/2019Statutory directions lifted as council’s children’s services ‘vastly improved’

Bromley LBC’s children’s services has had its statutory direction lifted by Ofsted in an “absolutely remarkable” turnaround just two years after inspectors slammed “... more >
Corby council calls for delay to Northamptonshire unitary plans

08/01/2019Corby council calls for delay to Northamptonshire unitary plans

Corby Borough Council has asked for the proposed creation of two new unitary authorities in Northamptonshire to be delayed after the local authority pointed to time constraints, staffing pressure... more >

the raven's daily blog

Blog: 5 minutes with Dr Tracy Vell MBE, Associate Lead for Primary and Community Care, Greater Manchester, Health and Social Care Partnership.

17/01/2019Blog: 5 minutes with Dr Tracy Vell MBE, Associate Lead for Primary and Community Care, Greater Manchester, Health and Social Care Partnership.

Ahead of next month’s EvoNorth event we caught up with Dr Tracy Vell MBE, Associate Lead for Primary and Community Care, Greater Manchester, Health and Social Care Partnership. Dr Tracy Vell MBE shares her thoughts on the Northern Powerhouse, what it means to her and why she thinks it’s important to attend EvoNorth.  W... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

Government accountability: A year in crises

15/01/2019Government accountability: A year in crises

From Windrush to Univerisal Credit: the Institute for Government’s (IfG’s) accountability lead Benoit Guerin discusses how we can ave... more >
Rethinking public-private partnerships

15/01/2019Rethinking public-private partnerships

Trinley Walker, senior policy researcher at the New Local Government Network (NLGN) considers some different ways of approaching the relationship... more >
Fracking: divest to invest

07/01/2019Fracking: divest to invest

Deirdre Duff, divestment campaigner at Friends of the Earth, takes a look at local authorities’ role in fracking. The fossil fuel indu... more >
Building credit with the public sector

07/01/2019Building credit with the public sector

Mark Morrin, localism lead and principal research consultant at ResPublica, makes the case for salary-deducted lending to sit alongside a broader... more >

interviews

Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

17/12/2018Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

One of the public sector’s key technology partners has recently welcomed a new member to its team. Matt Spencer, O2’s head of public ... more >
Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need to invest in technology to help make better use of their resources. Bu... more >
New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

05/11/2018New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

The new chief executive of one of the new unitary authorities in Dorset has outlined his approach to culture and work with employees, arguing tha... more >
Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

15/10/2018Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

On 6 September, the biggest decision-makers of the north joined forces to celebrate and debate how to drive innovation and improvement through th... more >

public sector focus

View all News