District Councils in Somerset will next week decide on a proposal to hold a local referendum on local government reform.
We are bringing forward this proposal because we want to ensure that Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has all the information they will need to determine which of the two options on the table local people support.
Concerns have been expressed about the consultation process and the lack of prominence given to the voice of the most important stakeholders – the city, town and parish councils of Somerset and the actual residents of Somerset – within the current Government consultation.
There have been calls from Somerset residents for the councils to take steps to ensure residents' views on the potential changes and their preference for the future of local government can be expressed in a clear and open manner.
A local referendum would provide invaluable additional information on top of the evidence that the current Government consultation.
This vote would be held after the current consultation closes, but before the Local Government Secretary is due to announce his decision. So, the information the vote will provide can be added to that gleaned from the consultation.
The poll would open on 7 May and close on 28 May. Voting would be by post or online and the poll would be run independent of the local councils by Civica Electoral Services (formerly Electoral Reform Services).
Should our councils back the proposal, this will be a once-in-a-generation chance to make a fresh start, to shape our local services and develop local solutions to the challenges we face.
Cllr Val Keitch, Leader of South Somerset District Council
Cllr Ros Wyke, Leader of Mendip District Council
Cllr Duncan McGinty, Leader of Sedgemoor District Council
Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts, Leader of Somerset West & Taunton Council