Proposals

Executive Summary

The Government has a series of tests that any proposed new Unitary Authority must meet before it can be approved. This business case showcases what Somerset can achieve and demonstrates how we surpass all Government’s tests.

Read the Executive Summary

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 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 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.

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.

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