A TAUNTON Deane councillor has hit out at the chief executive of the council for “threatening” the Government during an interview on a proposed merger.

Penny James, chief executive of Taunton Deane Borough Council and West Somerset Council, was interviewed for an article which appeared in the Municipal Journal (MJ) outlining the future of the new authority.

The article outlined the future of the ‘new council’ if the borough authority and West Somerset Council joined forces – a move the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, MP Sajid Javid must approve first.

She told the MJ that if its not accepted, the councils would be left in “sticky water”.

She said in the interview: “We want to transform with West Somerset. If that is not possible, Taunton Deane would have to exit the partnership to protect its interests. That would only hasten the decline of West Somerset.”

One Liberal Democrat councillor for the authority has said that the article is seen as a “threat” to Government ahead of the decision.

Councillor Habib Farbahi said: “Both Taunton Deane and West Somerset Tory Councils first push through a merger without any public consultation and are now threatening the government, who do not agree with their ambitions.

“The takeover or whatever you like to call this ill-thought venture with the failing council of West Somerset is continuing to cost Taunton Deane Council Tax and Business Rate payers heavily.”

Concerns were also raised by MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, Ian Liddell-Grainger.

He said: “Who actually authorised this interview and what right does the chief executive have to tell the 35,000 people of West Somerset that they will be dumped if they do not like the answer from the secretary of state?”

However, it is believed that both leaders of the two councils, John Williams for TDBC and Anthony Trollope-Bellew for West Somerset Council, gave permission for the article to go ahead. 

Cllr Trollope-Bellew said: "The article is not a threat. We were approached by the MJ and it serves as a reminder that the situation needs resolving. 

"With the General Election and the tragic Grenfell Tower fire, Sajid Javid has been tied up which is completely understandable. 

"We didn't publicise the article coming out to our members as we didn't feel it was necessary."