Taunton Councillors vote in favour of potentially sharing services with West Somerset Council
By abbie_taunton | Tuesday, March 05, 2013, 12:50
Taunton Deane councillors have voted in favour of arranging a business case that will see them potentially sharing services and staff with West Somerset Council.
West Somerset Council Offices in Williton
A tight vote took place last night at a special full council meeting, and 25 councillors voted for and 23 councillors voted against establishing a business case with the potentially unviable neighbouring authority.
Non-negotiable points are that Taunton Deane and West Somerset remain democratically independent, and taxpayers in each authority do not suffer as a result.
The agreement is also subject to West Somerset Council fully underwriting the external costs of £25,000 should the bid for central Government project funding not be successful.
Both authorities are keen to apply for Government funding following an announcement by Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis in Parliament in February 2013.
The business case proposals are being supported by other partners including Somerset County Council, Sedgemoor District Council and Exmoor National Park Authority.
Leader of Taunton Deane, Cllr John Williams, said: "Taunton Deane has a very good record of working in partnership with other organisations and this decision now enables us to explore the business case for working more closely with our neighbours in West Somerset and other authorities.
"The hard work begins now but it is a challenge we must rise to as we have ever increasing demands for services and a reducing income.
"We have to examine shared management or services," he added, "and clearly establish what it can deliver in savings or resilience of resources."
Cllr Tim Taylor, Leader of West Somerset Council said: "I am delighted that both Councils have now formally agreed to work together on this exciting project.
"The hard work can now start as we draft a business case for closer working.
"I know that my fellow members and officers here at West Somerset see this as a great opportunity to develop a sustainable template for providing affordable local government services that will be of mutual benefit to the communities of both areas."
The first step will be to work up a detailed joint management proposal to be considered by both Councils in October, to be implemented in April 2014.