OPPOSITION councillors are threatening a mass walkout at a special meeting over plans to merge with another authority.

Conservative-run Taunton Deane Borough Council members are being recommended to dissolve their own council and West Somerset Council and to then create a single authority covering the two patches.

But the LibDems oppose the move, claiming it will end up costing taxpayers more, lead to cuts in services and jobs, delays in developments such as Firepool and Coal Orchard and stunt economic growth.

They plan to unfurl a banner with the message 'Pay more, get less' at the council meeting at Oake Manor Golf Club on Monday at 6pm.

Veteran LibDem councillor Jefferson Horsley said: "All things are possible at the meeting. We're considering a walkout - clearly it's an option for us, depending on the way the debate goes.

"We feel the public has been misled over this and that the consultation process hasn't been genuine.

Somerset County Gazette:

Cllr Jefferson Horsley.

"The Tories are engineering the vast majority of people who are unaware of how it's really going to impact on them.

"The long-term outcome is going to be a disaster for Taunton Deane taxpayers."

LibDem leader Cllr Simon Coles, who was unavailable for comment this week, will signal to his colleagues to leave the debating chamber if he feels it necessary, although the Mayor, Cllr Hazel Prior-Sankey, and a couple of other fellow LibDems have indicated they will not join in the protest.

Secretary of State Sajid Javid is currently considering whether to approve the merger, but has previously said he is minded to back it.

Deane House leader Cllr John Williams said the LibDem walkout threat was "a great disappointment".

He added: "They have had the same opportunities as everybody else to input their thoughts through the democratic system.

"I'm not quite sure why they feel everybody else will be paying extra because the two council taxes are virtually the same.

Somerset County Gazette:

Cllr John Williams.

"We (the two councils) have been in a partnership for the last four years saving £1.8 million a year across the two, of which TDBC has had the lion's share due to scale, and we will be saving a further £3.1 million a year as a single council.

"All that goes towards protecting frontline services for our community, not diminishing them or costing more.

"If the LibDems dispute the decision, then they should vote against it."