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Javid approves council merger in West of England

Two councils in the south west of England are set to merge in April 2019 after Sajid Javid approved plans to create a new district council in the two areas.

Following the MHLG secretary ‘minding to implement’ the merger back in November 2017, Taunton Deane Borough and West Somerset Councils will soon form into a single district council called Somerset West and Taunton District Council.

Javid said on Thursday: “I have reached my decision having regard to the criteria for district council mergers that I announced to the House on 7 November 2017. 

“I am satisfied that these criteria are met and that the new district council is likely to improve local government and service delivery in the area, commands a good deal of local support, and that the new council area is a credible geography.

“I now intend to prepare and lay before Parliament drafts of the necessary secondary legislation to give effect to my decision. My intention is that if Parliament approves this legislation the new council will be established on 1 April 2019 with the first election to the council held on 2 May 2019.”

Both councils voted earlier last week to give consent for the merger’s legal process to start, and also agreed on the name of the new authority.

“There is much that needs to be done,” said the two councils’ leaders, councillors John Williams (Taunton Deane) and Anthony Trollope-Bellew (West Somerset). “We can now start making definitive plans to make sure that a new council can be ready for business in May 2019, following local elections.

“This is now the time for us all to work together to make sure that we can deliver a unified, modern and fit-for-purpose council to serve all our residents.”

Both councils have already been working in a formal partnership since 2013, sharing a chief executive and one set of staff. This agreement has also delivered £1.8m of annual savings used to maintain front line services.

“This new council will make sure we can continue to deliver our services in a way that’s sustainable into the future,” the leaders added.

“We know that our residents value those services highly. It will also allow us to focus on boosting our economy, supporting the delivery of Hinkley Point C new nuclear power station and fully embracing the opportunity afforded by Garden Town status awarded to Taunton.”


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