Have your say Where to start

1

Read the full, summary or leaflet version of our proposals and how they benefit the key stakeholder groups below.

2

Read how One Somerset addresses the questions raised by the consultation.

3

Read the four independent reports by leading experts, commissioned to analyse the alternative Stronger Somerset proposal.

For Public Sector Partners

At present, different types of council are responsible for providing different services on behalf of their residents. From a delivery perspective this has an impact on how Somerset local government works with its key public sector partners in the county including health, police, fire, probation and schools. A present partners have to interact and work with representatives from five councils to ensure a consistent service experience to the county’s residents and businesses.

For Parish and Town Councils

One Somerset will provide the opportunity to fundamentally enhance local decision-making and move genuine power and responsibility to local communities and their representatives. We envisage the creation of between 15 and 20 Local Community Networks, reaching every part of the county, that would give local people real power and real influence over the decisions that affect them most.

We are also fortunate to have 278 parish and town councils in Somerset which, as you will appreciate, vary greatly in size in the range of activity they undertake. Establishing a new unitary authority would, we believe, be a huge opportunity to look at this relationship and to seek to devolve decision making, services and assets in a way that benefits our communities and both the unitary and local parish and town councils.

For Business

We want Somerset to be a great place to do business, whether that’s creating a start-up or growing an established operation. And we want every business to be able to reach its full potential by creating the right conditions to prosper; a trained and highly skilled workforce, better and more responsive regulatory services and the right infrastructure where and when its needed, whether that’s ultra-fast broadband, regenerating our town centres or improving the county’s highways and public transport.

A strong unitary authority for Somerset would provide singular decision-making, strategic leadership, and voice. This would enable strengthened relationships with regional economic development partners such as HotSW LEP, the Sub-National Transport Board, Great South West (GSW) and WECA and Western Gateway.

For Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE)

The voluntary and community sector in Somerset plays a crucial role in supporting communities throughout the county and in the delivery of many vital services. This has been reinforced in recent months as we have, collectively, had to contend with the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic. The VCSE is, therefore, a crucial and significant partner working with Somerset County Council to improve and enhance the lives of our residents.

For residents

One Somerset would replace the existing 5 councils with a single council for Somerset delivering major savings, better value for money, improved local services, increased powers for local communities and a stronger voice for the people of Somerset

A single council will improve local government and public service delivery across the area by allowing us to join up and deliver local services, creating greater value for money and providing stronger strategic and local leadership with sustainable structures. One Somerset would end the artificial and needless administrative boundaries, delivering annual savings of £18.5m to direct towards front line services. A single council approach has worked well in other places that have adopted it in recent years.

Consultation questions

Independent reports

Four independent reports were commissioned by leading experts to analyse the Stronger Somerset proposal (that would create 2 separate east/west unitary authorities, a separate vehicle for the delivery of children’s services, a shared services company and a combined authority). The first report by PwC looks at the overall Stronger Somerset proposal, while there are three further reports looking at the plans for adult social care, children’s services, and place services, like highways, economy, and environment.

The summary findings of the reports are as follows:

  • Concerns around the financial analysis and modelling used in the Stronger Somerset business case including an apparent failure to recognise additional costs of its proposed model.
  • Concerns around the methodology used including lack of baseline data/facts underpinning existing service delivery and lack of tangible indications of what improvements would look like under the proposals.
  • Lack of detail and evidence used to substantiate claims made in the delivery of place, adults’ and children’s services, including around the proposed models of service delivery. It also fails to recognise that the majority of proposed system or service improvement changes have already been implemented or are in the process of being implemented.
  • Failure to understand and properly assess the impact of disaggregating existing county wide services including public health, and, then the impact to those services by creating two unitary authorities and in the case of children’s services, an Alternative Delivery Model.
  • Failure to understand the current operating and policy environments including Government reform such as the integration of health and care services and ongoing cost pressures within adult and children’s services.
  • Concerns around the future financial viability of the proposed model.
  • Concerns around the effectiveness of an untried model for public service delivery including the creation of an ADM for children’s services and a combined authority and its future role, without precedent and seemingly contradictory to existing Government policy.
  • Concerns that certain major services are absent from the business case including highways and transportation.

Read the full reports below:

PwC Stronger Somerset Review

The Stronger Somerset proposal, an assessment by PwC. PricewaterhouseCoopers is a multinational professional services network of firms, operating as partnerships under the PwC brand. PwC ranks as the second-largest professional services network in the world.

Adult Social Care Report

Stronger Somerset proposals for Adult Social Care by Professor John Bolton. Professor John Bolton is Visiting Professor at the Institute of Public Care (Oxford Brookes University) and formerly a Director of Social Services in local government as well as Strategic Finance Director at the Department of Health and Social Care.

Children’s Services Report

Stronger Somerset proposals for Children’s Services by Trevor Doughty. Trevor Doughty is a former Director of Children’s Services in two authorities and a Director of Social Services. In both authorities he was part of a programme to become a unitary council and he also led Cornwall from an Inadequate Ofsted rating to Outstanding. Currently a Commissioner and Advisor for the Department for Education.

Place Services Report

Stronger Somerset proposals for Place Services by Neil Gibson. Neil Gibson is formerly an Executive Director for Transport, Economy and Environment in local government and former President of the Association of the Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transportation (ADEPT).

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