PLANS to scrap all of Somerset's six councils are being considered in bid a save the county up to £28 million a year. 

Somerset County Council has revealed plans to explore changes to the way local government is organised in Somerset and leader, David Fothergill, has set plans in motion.

The council says the bold decision would protect frontline services at a time of 'unprecedented financial pressures' for all local authorities. 

The plans would see the abolition of Somerset County Council, Taunton Deane Borough Council, West Somerset Council, South Somerset District Council, Sedgemoor District Council and Mendip District Council, which would be replaced by a smaller number of single-tier authorities, or just one authority. 

READ MORE: Follow reaction to the announcement LIVE

“At a time of unprecedented financial pressures on all councils we are all looking at different ways to be more efficient, make savings and protect the frontline services that our residents value so much," Cllr Fothergill said.

“I believe that we owe it to our residents to look at this option too.

"I want start the ball rolling on work to establish the benefits and costs of such a change so that we can all make an informed decision as to whether a unitary model is the right way to go.

“This is only the start of a conversation and what would be a long process.

"At this stage we don’t have all the answers, but I believe that in these difficult times we have to be bold enough to start asking the questions.”

More explanation from Cllr David Fothergill. 

The idea has been discussed before in 2007, but a poll of residents found that the majority of people were in favour of keeping the current two-tier arrangement. 

The council says that money would be saved from actions such as reducing the number of councillors in the county by 50 per cent, and by reducing the number of council chief executives from five to one.

The cut in top bosses would save the councils £500,000 per year, while the cut in elected councillors would save around £1 million.

Reducing back-office teams and council contracts would also be likely to save 'millions'. 

“This hasn’t been looked at for 10 years and the circumstances for local government have changed dramatically since then,” said Cllr Fothergill.

“The time is right to look at this again.

“No-one can deny that a unitary model has huge potential for efficiencies, savings and reduction in duplication and bureaucracy.

"There will be arguments against this idea but I want to open up the discussion and see what options can come forward.”

The authority believes that a new system would come with a range of benefits for the every-day resident.

It says the changes would free up council-owned buildings to enable investment in frontline services, would allow councils to work more 'strategically' on issues such as planning and housing, and it would give Somerset a 'more powerful voice' with Government. 

This story is being updated with more information. 

Current councils:

Somerset County Council
Taunton Deane Borough Council
South Somerset Council
West Somerset Council
Sedgemoor District Council
Mendip District Council

These could become a single unitary authority covering the entire county or a smaller number of single-tier authorities.