I WOULD like to comment in a personal capacity on your recent article regarding the report by the South West Audit Partnership into the merger of Taunton Deane and West Somerset Councils.

A distinction needs to be drawn between the act of merging the two local authorities, and the wholesale restructuring of the workforce, known as 'transformation', that took place at the same time.

Merging the two councils may well have saved money through economies of scale, although personally I am not in favour of creating larger and more remote units of 'local' government.

However, it seems clear that the transformation process has cost a great deal of money, without providing any hard evidence of benefits.

READ MORE: Scathing report into merger process of Taunton Deane and West Somerset Councils

The reason for this is that 'transformation' involved terminating all of the existing staff contracts - in effect, dismissing the whole workforce - and then re-employing people in different jobs.

Staff were thereby able to claim redundancy, with its associated costs.

Morally they had every right to do so, having been treated in that way, but the risks of such a situation ought to have been foreseen and should not have arisen.

The local government trade union, Unison, raised a number of concerns about this back in 2016.

If the union's comments had been taken on board, a significant waste of public money might have been avoided.

The successor, Somerset West and Taunton Council, has also had to deal with the resultant loss of skilled and experienced staff, who cannot easily be replaced in the current climate.

Overall, it was a sad way to end for Taunton Deane Borough Council, which in my own experience had hitherto been a good employer, and, indeed, was rated an 'Excellent Council' by the Audit Commission in 2008.