Revolt at Somerset West & Taunton?
A curious petition has appeared on protest website Change.Org
The petition on behalf of “we the people” demands change to the way Somerset West & Taunton does business. In short it asks to “democratise” the council now. Somerset West & Taunto is controlled by the LibDems who took over from the Conservatives when Taunton Deane was merged with West Somerset in 2019. So who is calling for a radical overhaul of the way things are done? The Labour party? the Conservatives?
No it is none other than former LibDem leader Jefferson Horsley. The petition is very pointedly addressed to party and council leader Federica Smith. What the petition asks for is a change in “the ‘strong leader’ model in which a small group of people from the ruling party make the decisions and the views of other councillors (even those from their own party) can be disregarded.”
Mr Horsley notes that the Liberal Democrats won control of the new council on a manifesto which stated: “The new Council needs to change. Too many decisions are currently concentrated in the hands of a small clique…” He goes on to complain that although “the Council set up a Governance Working Group last summer to work on options for change, and most councillors have said they support introducing a Modern Committee System. This would cost no more to run than the current one but would have the major advantage of ensuring ALL councillors, no matter what political group they belong to, have a real role in developing policy at an early stage and in decision making, meaning the needs and views of all our diverse communities would be better represented and heeded.“
Although Mr Horsley suggests that “We the people DEMAND BETTER” to date just 23 people have signed.
But with a change in government and a unitary future on the horizon, does change now make sense? The council Leader may well be playing her cards close to her chest. But the very existence of a petition from a prominent Somerset LibDem does raise an eyebrow. Perhaps not all is well in the camp right now?
The link to the petition can be found here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/democratise-somerset-west-and-taunton-council-now?share=ce798f03-891d-4116-a3ee-7135f53b18dc&source=rawlink&utm_medium=socialshare&utm_source=rawlink&share=58613b59-40b1-45ee-8840-05c6cc5f712e