After bringing the County Council to the brink of bankruptcy, the Conservatives now want to introduce a single council to cover all of Somerset. This would mean each councillor represents TWICE as many residents.
The Liberal Democrats have criticised the Conservatives for firing the starting gun on local government reform during the pandemic when councils had important new work to do. In Somerset, the Councils were, until recently, collaborating on how best to reform local government structure. The Conservative County administration walked away from negotiations, and decided to push ahead and publish its business case during the Coronavirus Pandemic. The District Councils, including Conservative Sedgemoor, have rejected these plans and published their own ‘Stronger Somerset’ proposal for two councils, East and West Somerset. These proposals help to reform local government without harming democratic accountability like the Conservative plans.
Unfortunately, it looks like the Conservatives are pushing ahead with their plan in order to cover up their financial mismanagement of the County Council. In November, the County Council asked the Government to cancel the planned elections next May, if they can abolish themselves before the next set of elections, and raid the District Council coffers while they are at it, then they can distract from them running the Council finances into the ground. We believe this is the wrong action at the wrong time.