More change at Somerset West & taunton

Last month we reported on a challenge to Cllr Smith Roberts leadership of Somerset West and Taunton (SW&T) council. That challenge failed, with Simon Coles conceding after having polled the same number of votes as Cllr Smith Roberts.

But one of the issues that sparked the challenge has continued to haunt the council. Prior to the 2019 election (at which the LibDems won 30 out of 59 seats on the council) the LibDems suggested they would move to a committee system of government. Incorporating talent from all parties rather than the current them and us system. However Cllr Smith Roberts argued there was no point in changing the system, given that a new unitary council was on the horizon.

That has now cost her the support of a member of her cabinet. Cllr Marcus Kravis, Executive Member for Economic Development will now sit as an Independent. The position Cllr Kravis has been left in is ambiguous. Apparently he will continue to hold his portfolio. But he will do so as an Independent. In short, the Leadership appear to be condoning a hybrid form of committee system.

Cllr Kravis was the last councillor from the old West Somerset council area left in the SW&T cabinet. However two other councillors from the LibDem group have also resigned. Cllr Peter Pilkington (Old Cleeve & District) and Cllr Philip Stone (North Curry & Ruishton) stood down earlier this week.

So a week after the LibDems lost their majority on Mendip District Council, they have also lost their majority on SW&T. However in both cases the LibDem group remains the largest on the council. The current composition of the 59 seat council is as follows:

  • 28 LibDems
  • 14 Independent
  • 10 Conservative
  • 3 Labour
  • 2 Green
  • 2 Vacancy

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