How will this affect your local community and locality?

A brand new council would be formed, with a new name, to cover the current geographical areas of Taunton Deane and West Somerset. As neighbours, there are natural links between the two, a shared history, landscape and culture.

People from West Somerset look to Taunton for shopping, employment, further education, the services of a large hospital and transport links while West Somerset has the natural beauty of Exmoor, the coastline and outdoor activities.

The new council would keep the areas covered by Taunton Deane and West Somerset Councils intact, preserve the identities of our local communities and provide strong foundations for the future.

The proposal will leave many things unchanged.

There would still be a two-tier arrangement in place. So Somerset County Council would continue to be responsible for services like highways, street lighting and social care and the new district council would be responsible for services like planning (outside of Exmoor National Park), housing benefits, waste collection and environmental health. There would still be elections for County and District councillors in order to preserve local representation.

Parish and town councils would still exist and operate in the ways they do now. The mayors in Wellington, Minehead, Dulverton and Watchet would not be affected.

Currently Taunton Deane Borough Council has a civic mayor who happily co-exists with the Wellington Mayor. West Somerset Council does not have a civic mayor. We would welcome your thoughts about whether the new council should seek to have borough status and a civic mayor.

Q5. Is it important to you for there to be a civic mayor for the combined area covered by the proposed new council?

Reshaping of our councils could provide the opportunity to examine the case for a town council for Taunton, although for those living in the area of Taunton Deane not currently served by a town or parish council they would pay more Council Tax to cover the running costs of the Town Council.

Q6. Would having a Town Council for the unparished area of Taunton be important to you?

The new council will cover a larger area. It would be the largest district Council by area (although not by population) in Somerset. Although the new administrative district will change, what we presently know as ‘Taunton Deane’ and ‘West Somerset’ will still exist as communities and geographical locations.

There will be fewer district councillors covering the combined administrative area but we are confident the ratio of councillors to residents will be comparable with that for other district councils.

The new council will need to decide where it has its headquarters but as part of the work already being undertaken, to modernise service delivery, there will be an increase in ‘locality working’ with more staff based in the community rather than in a central headquarters and more information and services being available online 24/7.

Q7. What would a new single council mean for you in terms of your community and your locality?

Q8. Do you think the proposal might lead to any significant impacts on you? If so, what might they be and how could those impacts be reduced?

Q9. Do you have any other comments to make on the proposal for a single new council?