Statement from Mendip District Council - Unitary Proposal

Statement on behalf of Mendip District Council from the Council's Leader Cllr Harvey Siggs.

"Mendip District Council have been asked to have a conversation with Somerset County Council.  We are and have always been prepared to work in partnership with anybody and we are happy to listen to other people's ideas.  We are aware of Somerset County Council's tremendous budget difficulties especially with regards to adult Social Care and the safeguarding of children which have huge financial pressures.

"We are however surprised and saddened that communications did not come from Somerset County Council at an earlier stage, in time for us to brief our staff and councillors before the County Council made a public press release.  Unfortunately, many of our staff learned about this via the media on their way in to work, which is not how we would wish such a sensitive issue to be communicated at Mendip.  We believe very strongly in what we do at Mendip District Council.  We have a great team of staff and councillors, and this morning our priority has been to hold staff briefings so that we can answer their concerns as best we can with the minimal information that has currently been made available to us.

"It has now made an already difficult discussion yet more difficult, and we don't believe that this should have been the case.  Clearly Somerset County Council has been putting time and resource into this for some weeks, so it is surprising that this has been sprung on us, and fellow districts, without warning.  We will treat the issue seriously, to see how we can best serve our communities, and we will willingly explore each and every option.

"All of the districts have sound financial forward plans and ambitious plans for the delivery of high quality services.  We will have the dialogue with Somerset County Council but we will need to be convinced that this massive sort of reorganisation will provide savings to outweigh the disruption and set up costs involved.  The last time we discussed this subject was over ten years ago, and 84% of respondents at that time voted against a single unitary authority. 

"At the front of all discussions will be what is best for the residents, businesses and the communities of Mendip and the wider Somerset community."