SCRAPPING the county council and four district authorities would tackle poverty, boost wages and help people "live great lives" in Somerset, it is claimed.

The four districts have released their vision for a Stronger Somerset, with the current political set up replaced by two 'unitary' councils - Western Somerset covering the current Somerset West and Taunton and Sedgemoor areas and Eastern Somerset taking on Mendip and South Somerset.

The prospectus released today (Wednesday) is in response to attempts by County Hall to create a single body to run the whole county.

The document outlines proposals to modernise the economy with new skills, higher wages and better productivity, delivering growth that "benefits each and every community".

It says councillors would ensure people had more power to influence issues that matter to them.

And the councils would tackle the "crisis in care" to enable people in Somerset to "live great lives from birth to old age".

At the same time, they would work in partnership to deliver value for money and effective and efficient services for everyone.

Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts, leader of SWT, said: "I don't think the One Somerset case is right for our residents. One Somerset is too big.

"We have a cultural affinity with Sedgemoor and could be very powerful together, although we would maintain our separate identities.

"But Somerset is the fifth largest county in the country and will be home to more than 600,000 people in less than ten years. It takes two and a half hours to drive from Wincanton to Porlock."

Mrs Smith-Roberts, who represents the Halcon ward, said she is well aware of the challenges facing the more vulnerable people in Somerset, where 25 per cent of children live in poverty and twice the national average of young people self harm.

She added: "West Somerset is the worst part of the country for social mobility.

"The county council have a lot to answer for in terms of adults' and children's services.

"I want life to be better for all people. We want to help more vulnerable people. I think our business case could make that happen.

"We (SWT) are providing good services. They could be better, but we've started really great projects across the whole area.

"Throughout Covid we've engaged with our communities to try to help people through the pandemic."

She believes the two unitary project would halt Somerset's 'brain drain' that sees young talent slip away after their education due to low wages and high house prices.

"We've got to build the opportunities to make companies want to come here, to offer higher pay, improve education, improve opportunities, telling the Government they want to invest in the area," saud Mrs Smith-Roberts.

The move to fewer councils in the county follows years of huge cuts in the amount of money the Government gives to local authorities.

The Stronger Somerset aim would be for councils to be self-sufficient, which could be obtained through savings, investments and potentially higher council tax.

SWT full council will vote on the business case on September 10 and engage with parish councils and residents.

The Government is expected to make a decision on the future of Somerset in early January.

"I'm really confident of our case," said Mrs Smith-Roberts.