Taxpayers in Taunton Deane will feel betrayed if the Conservative Councillors who run Taunton Deane Borough Council (TDBC), manage to steamroller the ,merger with failing West Somerset through despite strong opposition from local residents.
TDBC Councillors were sold the idea of working with West Somerset Council in 2013 by the current administration on the premise of each council being a sovereign body and not costing the TDBC taxpayers any money. But it turns out that is not so. Taunton Deane Residents will have to pick up the debts of a Council facing bankruptcy, such as the deficit of £15.6 million in their pension fund. That's in addition to the merger's upfront cost of £10 million. The Deane Conservatives claimed "widespread local support" - but only 200 out of 135,000 residents said they wanted the merger to go ahead and many more said they did not, in the Council's own consultation: indeed one Tory Councillor resigned as a result and others threatened to do so.
Typical of the hypocrisy that hangs over the whole process is the way neither council leader has told the public that the minister has in fact instigated his own consultation process, indicating perhaps that he is not happy with the lack of proper consultation by either local Council. The fact that, there are fundamental differences in the management of comparatively rural West Somerset and largely urban Taunton, with one having twice the land mass and a third of the population of the other: The need of thinly populated West Somerset are quite different to Taunton's Urban concentration in every aspect from housing, roads and services through to internet connection and local transport.
We should be modernising our own council, looking after our deprived areas and being more commercial with our own assets, instead of selling off these assets and raiding the housing revenue account and new homes bonus to raise the millions of pounds necessary to pay for a merger that is of no benefit to us. At the same time we are making our own staff redundant in the name of savings!
The government allowed West Somerset to fail; they should pick up the bill, not Taunton Deane taxpayers.
This merger is wider than party politics; please take a few minutes to write to the Minister Sajid David direct or go to www.tdld.co.uk/stop-the-merger