Somerset MP fails to get question answered

If at first you don’t succeed… Then according to the gospel of Ian Liddell-Grainger, keep asking the same question until you do. Unfortunately Minister of State, Luke Hall is being boringly consistent.

Mr Liddell Grainger raised the same written question on 12 July that he likes to ask. “To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, how many of the 5000 respondents to the recent consultation on the Somerset local unitary bid supported (a) one Somerset and (b) stronger Somerset.

Why keep asking? He knows that he’s p****d off the Secretary of State. This is not actually helpful when trying to lobby the same person for a particular outcome. It has probably damaged the cause of “Stronger Somerset” more than the poll in which only one side took part. So now the main tactic appears to be to try and embarrass the Secretary of State.

Unfortunately, no matter how many times he asks, nothing is moving. The Secretary of State did not answer his question. Instead junior Minister Luke Hall was sent in to bat. Mr Hall is not a run scorer. His is not fluent with drives and cuts. But his forward defensive is impenetrable. He told the MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset “On 5 July I said in response to the Hon. Member’s parliamentary questions of 28 June, 29 June and 30 June (UIN 23083, 23084, 24394, 24907) that over 5,000 responses have been received for the consultation on local government reorganisation in Somerset; that the Secretary of State expects to announce his decisions on the Somerset unitary proposals before the summer; and this will be accompanied with a summary of responses to the consultation on local government reorganisation in Somerset. This remains the case.

Of course we are pretty certain we know the answer that the Secretary of State will give. He will be backing One Somerset which was always the government’s preferred model. So Mr Liddell Grainger and his LibDem friends are hoping for a chink of light. That the 5,000 people the Secretary of State spoke to all backed Stronger Somerset. That might give the Stronger Somerset team another angle of attack.

Tax payers of Somerset have already paid for a poorly conducted poll. With one side campaigning, the other side not. With no debates, no proper consideration of the facts. And of course, a couple of farcical errors. But playing games with other people’s money, your money, will not stop there.

Is that the sounds of cries for a judicial review we hear? Watch this space.


  • It would be interesting to see the breakdown by parish
    The result of the resent poll, organised the District Councils

  • Bearing in mind the very low response rate, I would guess that only about 15-16% of the electorate actually voted in favour of Stronger Somerset, despite the massive publicity campaign by LibDem councillors. That is hardly an endorsement of its support. The poll was just a complete waste of public money.

  • The Libdems left it to late.
    The Unitary Authority Proposal,has been discussed for nearly three years
    It is strange the Libdems, started the poll, after the government consultation period closed
    In the past the Libdems, supported a Unitary Authority for Somerset

  • “So Mr Liddell Grainger and his LibDem friends” … Ahem, ILD is backing the majority of Conservative Councillors who voted for Stronger Somerset.

    For the record, I am unaware whether any of his friends openly support the Liberal Democrats, but I would hope some do, after all it is a party with very strong support in this County, demonstrated by the large proportion of LD councillors that the people chose to have represent them

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