Stronger Somerset – or lets not bother?
The Leveller® has always been deeply suspicious of the enthusiasm of our District Councils for change. Or at least some of them. Initial talks between the Districts and County on new arrangements for local government, got nowhere. Was that one of the reasons that Somerset County Council (SCC) broke ranks and came out with their own proposal? SCC would certainly assert that.
The view from Leveller® Towers has always been that the Districts did not want anything to change. They were happy with the status quo. The talks on the future of local government in Somerset was something they felt they needed to be seen to do. The Leveller® believed they were happy to talk the issue out until it went away.
The Stronger Somerset business case denies that. It states very clearly that no change is not an option. It states that whatever happens, it is important to have a new way of doing things. It categorically prefers a solution of two new unitary councils, abolishing district councils. Nowhere in the document is there any sense that retaining district councils as they are, is viable.
Except…. A poll posted on 8 March on a local Facebook Page in South Somerset suggests not everybody is on board. What makes it especially interesting is who put the post up. The post appears to be by Peter Seib. It claims to be Peter Seib – one cannot always tell how genuine these things are. He is a senior cabinet member of South Somerset District Council (SSDC). In the post the author asserts “The Government wants to abolish South Somerset District Council“.
So is that statement true? Lets look at the evidence:
- The Government has not, as far as The Leveller® is aware, offered any view at all on the future of SSDC.
- It is being asked to choose between two options for the future of local government in Somerset. One Somerset produced by SCC and Stronger Somerset backed by the Districts. BOTH solutions would see the abolition of SSDC.
- One of those solutions was based on a business case made by SSDC and backed by SSDC.
- Unless SSDC is insincere in its support of Stronger Somerset, then SSDC wants to abolish SSDC.
There is a further hint that the author of the post does not buy into the Stronger Somerset deal. The poll asks: “should there be a referendum to choose the best option (or to choose to stay the same)?”
Remember the Stronger Somerset case repeatedly claims the status quo (to stay the same) is not an option. What we believed was that SSDC never really wanted Stronger Somerset. SSDC never wanted to see any change at all. They were forced kicking and screaming into change by the action of SCC. Once the One Somerset case was out there, they felt they had no option but to put out an alternative.
This post, if genuine, absolutely vindicates our view.