SOMERSET's districts councils have grouped together to hit out over a plan that would see the end of all the authorties. 

Last week it was announced that Somerset County Council was looking into plans that would completely change local government across the county.

David Fothergill, leader of SCC, said he was looking into plans to abolish all six of the councils across the county, in favour of replacing it with one 'unitary' authority.

The announcement has sparked reaction with MPs, cllrs, and residents across the county.

The district councils have issued a joint response, after firstly being "disappointed" with the county council over the way it voiced it's intentions.

The district authorities, including Taunton Deane, West Somerset, South Somerset, Sedgemoor, and Mendip, have hit out at the county council for implying that they were struggling financially.

The joint spokesman said: ""All the district councils in Somerset recognise the need for change in local government in Somerset. A growth in the demand for adult social care is a national challenge and its financial impact on Somerset County Council, together with the lack of progress in transforming the way it does business, means that the County Council is not financially sustainable in the near future. Somerset’s district councils cannot stand by given the risk this poses to services and the communities we are here to serve.

"The assertion that district councils in Somerset are in financial difficulty is inaccurate. All the district councils in Somerset have taken tough decisions and actions to secure their finances and protect services. It is because of this that they will be financially sound in the future, and the claim that a unitary authority is needed to protect district council services is misplaced and just plain wrong."

The statement added that SCC's projected savings for the unitary council are 'unrealistic', but the authorities are willing to work with the county council to examine all of the options available.

The spokesman added: "The district councils are committed to implementing further change in the future to continue to increase our efficiency, effectiveness, improve our services and ensure we deliver for our communities. At this stage, given the progress we have made, the district councils believe the projected savings from establishing a unitary council suggested by Somerset County Council are unrealistic and not based on a sound analysis of our position.

"Given its financially precarious position, the districts intend to work with Somerset County Council and other partners to examine all the options for reform in Somerset local government. This conversation could include unitary councils but all other options should be objectively assessed as well.

"The district councils’ central aim in participating in any discussions will be to ensure that the priority is not to protect any one or group of existing organisations but to arrive at the best proposals for the residents and businesses of Somerset, recognising that we need to meet the needs of our communities over a large geographical area. The districts will ensure any change is the right change for the communities of Somerset."

Somerset County Council leader, cllr David Fothergill, said the five district councils accepting his invitation to open discussions over the potential to create a unitary model was “a great first step”.

“For me it is simple. Would a unitary approach, doing away with district and county councils and creating something new to cover the whole of the county benefit residents?” he said.

“Clearly it would save money – there can be no doubt about that. We need to research and assess how much money, but it would certainly reduce duplication and be more efficient. That’s a big tick.

“Clearly it would help residents not having to bounce between district council and county councils, not knowing which one provides which service. So, having one obvious place to take their issues or requests, that’s another tick.

“Clearly it would help to have a more powerful voice, standing up for Somerset in Government. Again, a big tick.

“I understand some people might be nervous – that’s only to be expected.

“I applaud my colleagues in the districts for their comments today stating that they recognise the need for change. That is a big step. I have said all along that I am only starting a conversation on what that change might look like.

“Our priority must be to provide the best service we can for our residents, businesses and communities. It cannot be about protecting individual councils.

“I am sure that there is a great prize for our residents here. A better system of working together that could bring great benefits across our county.

“The district councils have come forward positively and I look forward to meeting them.”