Somerset Council vice chair resigns

The Leveller® understands that the Vice Chair of Somerset County Council is to be replaced.

Councillor Mark Keating was Vice Chair of the council. Due to the absence of Cllr Nigel Taylor, he had been acting as Chair of the council. However he has now left the Conservative group on the council and resigned as Vice Chair. Cllr Keating will however remain as councillor for Coker until the elections in May.

We understand that at issue was the way Cllr Keating had chaired the last full council meeting of SCC. That was on 24 November 2021. This drew considerable criticism at the time. There have also been issues with a number of Cllr Keating’s social media posts. Whilst these have since been removed, we understand that they are to be subject to a Standards Committee investigation.

There are two full council meetings scheduled before the May election, including budget setting. Therefore a new Vice Chair of the council is to be appointed. We understand that Cllr Peter Clayton (Burnham North) will be nominated as the new Vice Chair of the council. This should be at the next full council meeting which is scheduled for the 19 January.


  • The news of Keating’s apparent resignation has been received with dismay in his home village of Haselbury Plucknett. He has let the entire community down again with his poor behaviour. There have been many complaints about his conduct over the years, but the typical response from the investigating Monitoring Officer is that accountability stops at the doors to County Hall.

    More recently the trait has spread to other members of his family with his son Will pleading guilty to threatening behaviour at Yeovil Magistrates Court on 15th December last year. The threats were made to a neighbour who was an opponent to Keating’s planning application to build 35 houses on his Bay Tree Farm on the outskirts of the village. Planning permission was refused by SSDC but not before the community had to raise almost £10,000 to get professional help to counter what was seen as a flawed application. Almost a third of the local community contributed towards the defeat of the application.

    The planning application was seen as a way of covering long-outstanding debts following the collapse of the Keating’s online flower business, none of which have been paid to date. The failure of the planning application has meant that he must sell the Bay Tree Farm estate, or at least part of it to cover the debts. The property has been on the market for many months with no overt signs of attracting a buyer, at a time when properties in the village are typically sold in weeks. No doubt Keating’s Insolvency Practitioner will have something to say about this at his annual review in May.

    The news that there is to be an investigation by the Standards Committee has been welcomed. Hopefully his Teflon coat has worn thin enough for the ongoing investigation to penetrate it.

  • Impressive reporting, finally signs that at least one tory has been held to account.

  • In the light of today’s Full Council Meeting, a unique piece of journalism from the leveller. Insider or time travel?

  • Today Keating has formally resigned as VC and from the Conservative Party, citing Boris Johnson as his reason, according to an email broadcast today. Will the lying ever stop?

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