Latest Public Sector News

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 >

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 open more > more last word articles >

public sector focus

View all News

comment

Camberley inspired: investment and regeneration

11/03/2019Camberley inspired: investment and regeneration

The decline of the Great British high street has been one of the greatest c... more >
Swindon's solar-powered recycling centre saves council cash

11/03/2019Swindon's solar-powered recycling centre saves council cash

Steve Cains, head of power solutions at Public Power Solutions, the wholly-... 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 welco... more >

the raven's daily blog

Councils Can: LGA launches Spending Review campaign

18/03/2019Councils Can: LGA launches Spending Review campaign

Lord Porter, chairman of the Local Government Association, outlines his organisation’s campaign to make sure local government tops to government’s list for this ye... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

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 feeling of imminent change than the article James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has penned for us on p28. In it, he highlights... read more >