02.07.20 JOINT STATEMENT FROM THE LEADERS OF MENDIP DISTRICT COUNCIL, SEDGEMOOR DISTRICT COUNCIL, SOMERSET WEST & TAUNTON COUNCIL AND SOUTH SOMERSET DISTRICT COUNCIL IN RESPONSE TO ‘ONE SOMERSET’ AND THE FUTURE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN SOMERSET
“We want to make it clear that the District Councils of Somerset do not support ‘One Somerset’ and the proposals for a single council for Somerset.
“The detailed work which the five councils of Somerset commissioned together clearly concluded that a single council was the wrong solution for the people and communities of Somerset.
“Somerset’s District Councils have been focused in recent months on supporting our residents and businesses through the Coronavirus crisis. This remains our priority including focusing on how we help Somerset’s communities and economy recover. However, as Somerset County Council is determined to push the debate on the future forward during the pandemic, as four districts we will now be putting our collective efforts to developing an alternative proposal. We have always said would refocus on this when the time was right.
“We know we can offer a better future for the people of Somerset that reforms local government and is ambitious for our communities and their quality of life. Somerset does not deserve the cheapest local Government. Somerset deserves the best local government.
“We will develop the best plan for the future with the help and involvement of our communities.”
I am very concerned as lockdown eases that we make life as easy as possible for residents of our villages and town that need to shop and do business in Shepton.
So I have issued the letter below, I believe it is a sensible and constructive proposal that councillors of all parties and none can support. I am looking to achieve a positive outcome and delighted that my fellow councillors Sam Phripp, Josh Burr, Edric Hobbs and Garfiled Kennedy (Liberal Democrats) and Chris Inchley (Independent)
Thank you !
Cllr Barry O'Leary
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South Somerset stays Lib Dem but with a new look as council meets
With many of the councillors being newly elected, it looked a very different council that met, but the dramatic change was the majority with the Liberal Democrats taking 41 of the 60 seats.
Cllr Val Keitch, who represents Ilminster, was nominated unopposed as Leader and will continue in the role she has undertaken since September, saying it was a great honour to do so. Cllr Peter Seib will be the Deputy Leader.
During the meeting, which took place on Tuesday 21 May, Cllr Tony Capozzoli stood down as South Somerset District Council Chairman saying it had been an honour and privilege to have held the role. Cllr Paul Maxwell was voted in as the new chairman with Cllr Jenny Kenton serving as vice chair (Cllr Mike Best had previously served in this post).
Cllr Maxwell said: “I want to thank both Tony and Mike for the superb jobs they did for this Council. I also want to give a warm welcome to our new councillors and I want this to be a Council where we treat each other with respect, regarding of political parties and views. We were elected to serve the people of South Somerset and we want to make them proud of this Council.”
The meeting saw portfolio holders – the elected council members who are responsible for different areas of the Council's work – appointed.
The portfolios have been redesigned to link more closely with the areas of work in the Council Plan, the document which sets out the vision and aims for the Council and how these are going to be delivered through areas of focus and priority projects. The current annual action plan and priority projects were approved unanimously by Full Council in February 2019.
All change at Mendip as new look council meets
Mendip’s new look council met last night bringing together the district’s 47 councillors for the first time since the elections took place earlier this month.
With over half of the councillors being newly elected, it was a very different council that met, not only was there a dramatic change in the leadership after the Liberal Democrats took 22 of the 47 seats, but the make-up of the council looked very different with over a third of the council made up of female councillors. Four of those taking on the roles of Leader, Deputy Leader, Chair and Deputy Chair.
Cllr Ros Wyke takes over as Leader, supported by a cabinet, which is a mix of former and newly elected councillors. Cllr Helen Sprawson-White takes on the role of Chair with Cllr Bente Height supporting as Deputy Chair.
In her opening speech as Leader of Mendip District Council, Cllr Ros Wyke, said; “The opportunity to address this council, this new council, as leader of the largest group and leader of Mendip is a great privilege and responsibility.
“I lead a group of people who are younger, more diverse and I am proud to say, more gender balanced than ever before. It’s my strongly held belief that when we bring people with different views and life experiences together to make decisions, we achieve better results for the people we are here to represent.”
Remarking on collaboration and the council working across party boundaries to achieve positive change for Mendip’s residents and communities, Cllr Wyke, said; “Just as for the suffragettes – deeds, not words, must be our motto.”
In her closing comments Cllr Wyke mentioned all the those that the council is there to serve, from the shopkeepers and market traders in England’s smallest city – Wells, the market towns of Frome, Glastonbury, Shepton Mallet and the village of Street, to the farmers and residents of the many rural communities.
Cllr Wyke, said; “We councillors are all amazingly proud to represent this beautiful part of our ancient County of Somerset.
“As we move forward, approaching our work for Mendip, we should try to forget what divides us politically, and remember the people who put us here. We’re public servants to the citizens of Mendip, and it’s in that spirit that our work begins tonight.”
Following her election by council as Chair, Cllr Helen Sprawson-White, set out her plans to focus on health and education during her time as Chair. Cllr Sprawson-White, said; “As Chair I believe it is important that we send a clear message to our communities that we are an authority that is approachable, transparent and inclusive. I want all residents, members and officers to feel a real sense of pride and belonging to Mendip, working together to deliver effective outcomes and I will do all I can to break down any barriers that are in place to make this happen.”
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