PEOPLE are being urged to have their say over once-in-a-lifetime plans which could change the way public services are delivered in Somerset.

The number of district councils in the county could be slashed as council chiefs look to create a new county-wide authority to replace the current system, which features Somerset County Council and four district authorities (Somerset West & Taunton, South Somerset, Sedgemoor and Mendip).

However, there are two rival plans - one backed by the county council, the other from the districts - out for consultation.

The county council plan - One Somerset - would see a single, overarching authority created to handle all of Somerset's public services.

Stronger Somerset - the plan put forward by the districts - would see two authorities created.

Local Government Secretary, Robert Jenrick MP, launched the consultation on Monday (February 22), with the consultation period will running until Monday, April 19.

Leaders of the four districts say their plan would 'deliver better jobs, affordable homes, stronger communities and a carbon zero county'.

Stronger Somerset proposes two unitary authorities, covering western and eastern Somerset, to replace the five current councils, which leaders say will reflect and serve the geographic, social and economic differences across the county, with the new councils working closely to coordinate policy and share back-office services where it makes sense.

Leader of Mendip District Council, Cllr Ros Wyke, said: “Stronger Somerset is the fresh start our county needs.

"This is not about simply creating a bigger, cheaper version of what we have now. Stronger Somerset proposes deep, fundamental reform that will transform the places and quality of life in Somerset and give residents excellent, value-for-money services.”

Sedgemoor District Council leader, Cllr Duncan McGinty, said: “We need reform – without it, the county will go broke.

"Savings from reorganisation would soon be eaten up by spiralling costs of adults’ and children’s services, if they continue to be run as they are.

"Only the Stronger Somerset business case sets out the ideas, fresh thinking and evidence to show how reform can be achieved and sustain excellent services right across our communities.”

Leader of Somerset West and Taunton Council, Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts, said: “Creating two councils from five is the opportunity to cut duplication in administration and support services and use the savings for targeted investment where resources are most needed, early intervention to prevent dependency on crisis services, new approaches in adults’ and children’s services and locally-led solutions to reduce demand on services.

"This is not about simply creating a bigger, cheaper version of what we have now. Moving the deckchairs around and changing the name plate won’t cut it.”

And leader of South Somerset District Council, Cllr Val Keitch, added: “The two new councils we propose will each cover distinct areas based on established local economies as well as aligning with existing boundaries used by emergency services and the health service.

"This is the right solution for a county of Somerset’s size, recognising the important differences of our diverse communities.

"These new councils will be small enough, so they know you and you know them, but big enough to be effective and economic.

"They will meet the needs of their local communities and work together for the benefit of the whole county.”

For more information on the Stronger Somerset proposal go to

Meanwhile, the county-backed One Somerset proposal would see the five councils scrapped and replaced with a single authority.

It is claimed the change would end confusion for residents, remove waste and duplication, and free up funding to invest in public services, saving an estimated £18.5m each year.

Cllr David Fothergill, Leader of Somerset County Council, said: “This is a fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to improve public services for everyone in Somerset.

“No more waste and duplication, no more confusion over who does what, just one strong, modern council, listening to the needs of Somerset’s residents and delivering what matters most for them.

“It is now clear that staying the same is not an option.

“I strongly encourage all residents, organisations and businesses to get behind One Somerset and make sure the Government hears your voice.”

The One Somerset has support from MPs Rebecca Pow (Taunton Deane), Marcus Fysh (Yeovil), David Warburton (Somerton and Frome).

Bridgwater and West Somerset MP, Ian Liddell-Grainger, is opposed to the One Somerset plan, calling it 'a dotty idea'.

To respond to the Government’s consultation, go to You can also respond by email or post.