This week, voters across Somerset will get the chance to choose the option for change they would
prefer to see for local councils.
Kicked off during a pandemic at the insistence of the Leader of Somerset County Council, his
reorganisation plan proposes one council, delivering every single service, stretching from Minehead
to Frome. A single council which would take control of powers and services currently delivered
locally, in our own communities.
The four district council leaders put aside political differences, worked across party divides, and are
arguing for a different course – to keep decision making and services local. We put forward a
sensible, well-thought through plan for two unitary councils – one for Eastern and one for Western
Somerset. Councils small enough to think and act locally, but big enough to be effective and cost-
For anyone, like me, who has spent time on the phone to utility companies with bases in different
regions or even countries, the good sense of this plan will be clear. As regular readers will know, I
live in rural Mendip, and trying to explain exactly what our local issue is to a service provider who
has sacrificed local services for economies of scale is often infuriating.
That’s why our plan keeps services as local as possible. If you have a local problem, you want to be
able to collar your Councillor when you see them out and about and know that your voice will be
heard by those in power. For me, the County Council’s sprawling plan will leave our voice diminished
in the interests of economies of scale.
It will also mean that reform will start here in Mendip, and not be imposed by a single Taunton-
based mega-council. For too long, people in this part of Somerset have been ignored by a County
Hall that is increasingly remote. Our money has been spent freely on consultants while services have
suffered. A vote for two councils will help put an end to the old system.
However, that’s enough of my views – now it’s over to you.
This week, you will be receiving a ballot pack which allows you to make a choice in the advisory poll
and return it by post to the independent organisation used to conduct our vote – you won’t even
have to use a stamp. For those who’d prefer to vote online, that’ll be available too, with added
security to ensure your vote is safe and accounted for.
The important thing is that the choice must be yours. We must not settle for a council system
imposed on us against our will, either from the politicians in Westminster or the power-hungry down
in Taunton. We must get this right and I believe that it is the people of Mendip who deserve to have
a voice in this debate.
Voter packs are being posted on 18 May, so please do look out for yours and make sure your vote is
submitted, and your voice heard.
As ever, do get in touch if you have any questions, either on my email [email protected], or
my Facebook page @Ros.Wyke.
Written by Cllr Ros Wyke, Leader of Mendip District Council
Please get in touch either on my Facebook page @Ros.Wyke or you can send me an email: [email protected].