ELECTIONS for a new council covering the whole of Somerset will take place in May next year, the Government has announced.

Somerset County Council and the four district councils - Somerset West & Taunton, Mendip, South Somerset and Sedgemoor - are being scrapped and will be replaced by a new Somerset Council in April 2023.

Local Government Minister Kemi Badenoch this week confirmed the timing and process of creating the unitary authority.

Somerset County Council leader Cllr David Fothergill (Conservative) welcomed the news contained in a letter from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Cllr Fothergill said: "I welcome the Minister’s decision and the clarity it brings to the coming months.

“We now all know when the first election to the new Somerset Council will be, and the confirmation of continuing authority status will make the process of building a new Somerset Council far more straightforward.”

Next year's election will be based on the existing county council divisions, with 110 seats being contested.

A boundary review will take place following the poll.

A war chest of £16,5million has been set aside to fund the transition, with around half of that expected to cover redundancy payments to staff.

The confirmation that the election will take place in May has been backed by all three main political parties.

South Somerset leader Val Keitch (LibDemt) said: "I am very pleased to see that the structural change order (SCO) ends any uncertainty and confirms that elections must take place in May 2022.

"It is vital that Somerset’s voice is heard throughout this process.

"We will continue to work together as five councils to ensure we create a new authority which delivers the best future for Somerset."

Cllr Leigh Redman (Labour) described the decision as "the only choice that made sense".