The future of local government in Somerset is currently being discussed between the District Councils and the County Council. The five Councils have been working together to explore the best approaches to address the challenges we face across Somerset. The conclusions are that change needs to happen. No change is not an option. Therefore, the only real question is what changes we need to make and when.
There are five main areas of focus which are: disadvantaged children, young people, older people, the economy and the environment. Within these areas the focus is around a growing and ageing population, supporting more struggling families, not enough affordable housing, lack of employment with young people leaving the County, environmental targets and investing in digital technologies.
The imperative is to create something better for Somerset. Not just a cheaper option but something that delivers better community outcomes and financially sustainable services.
Options are to have a more integrative and collaborative approach amongst the councils, to form one new council, to form two new councils either North/South or East/West or to have three new councils.
The District Councils' Leaders have agreed the best option is a deeper collaboration between all councils. This would include integrating strategies — perhaps one strategic approach for all of Somerset — as well as integrating services/management and leadership, joined up commissioning and procurement and introducing one customer service portal for all the county.
The County Council preferred option is to explore one new council.
SSDC's next step will be to seek approval and decision to develop a business case for their preferred option. This will take place in February.
Following on from the more integrative and collaborative approach favoured by the District Councils there are series of drop-in events are being held to give people the opportunity to get involved and find out how the councils in Somerset are working together on their approach to the climate emergency and how they aim to reduce carbon emissions by 2030.
The events will be held on Saturdays between 10am and 4pm at the Council Offices in their respective districts:
8th February in Bridgwater, 15 February in Shepton Mallet and 22 February in Yeovil. You can also complete an online survey: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Somerset-Climate-Change-Survey-2019 or for under 18's www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Somerset-Climate-Change-Survey-2019-Young-People.