Flags are flying as a new era dawns in Somerset today (Saturday 1 April) with the official launch of Somerset Council.
The new, single council’s logo features on flags that are flying at council offices in Bridgwater, Shepton Mallet, Taunton and Yeovil.
Somerset Council replaces the four district councils, Mendip, Sedgemoor, Somerset West and Taunton, and South Somerset, and Somerset County Council, bringing services, staff, and elected members under one umbrella.
This will free up resources, including £18million every year, to protect jobs and services; grow Somerset’s voice nationally; help to deliver the investment in business and infrastructure; and drive action to tackle climate change.
The change will make it easier for customers to access the services they need – there will be a single telephone number 0300 123 2224 and a single website www.somerset.gov.uk. The number of Customer Access Points across Somerset has almost doubled from 12 to 19.
Somerset Council, with 110 councillors, will be one of the largest unitary councils in England – with 512 services – and its scale will enable innovative approaches to tackling the big challenges faced today.
Cllr Bill Revans, Leader of Somerset Council, said:
This is the biggest shake up of local government in Somerset for 50 years. While people will see some immediate benefits, such as simpler ways to get in touch, there won’t be a big difference right away.
In the years ahead, services will be more joined-up and we can use this powerful new council to take on the big challenges such as improving opportunities for young people, managing the impacts of an ageing population, and addressing the cost-of-living and climate crises.
Cllr Val Keitch, Executive Member for Local Government Reorganisation and Prosperity, added:
The new council will have strong links with local communities built in. The introduction of 18 Local Community Networks (LCNs) across the county will involve a wide range of people and partners with real power to influence the issues that matter to them.
Creating a new council is a complex project that we’ve delivered on time and on budget. That is thanks to hardworking council staff working collaboratively for the good of our county. This exemplifies how in Somerset we get the job done.