DRAGOONING this so-called One Somerset through at the behest of Tory SCC leader David Fothergill, aided and abetted with a big overall majority of 15 (from 55 total) but probably only of a temporary nature until May of this year - which was scheduled as Somerset County Council elections time - and probably with a close ear to Tory Secretary of State for Local Government, Robert Jenrick, is little short of anti-democratic corrupt practice.

Particularly when it is borne in mind that the most recent Somerset West and Taunton elections in 2019 produced an anti-Tory landslide, with only nine Conservative councillors out of 59 - a sure indication that merging two councils into one was a cobbled-up anti-democratic, economic mess, resented by residents of all political persuasions.

In other words, now, the most likely outcome of SCC elections if held as scheduled this May probably would be another similar anti-Tory return to Lib Dem rule and hopefully a much more democratic push for the so-called two unitary authorities in Stronger Somerset (West and East).

WANT TO WRITE? Click here to send us a letter

Of course, the latest Jenrick announcement of his agreeing to defer SCC elections by a year until 2022 could be easily forecasted by even those knowing little of the electoral history.

Whatever happens, the nonsensical (but usual) Tory case of providing better services with spending millions less money is a sure-fire loser, both on grounds of severe loss of proper local democracy through the sheer size of Somerset after getting rid of its district councils, and equally from the sheer organisational difficulty in the efficient running of all services for such a vast area.

I believe it is vital at this stage to ensure full democratic debate and consultation (possible referendum?) from the bottom up, not the top down as now, for both One Somerset and Stronger Somerset re-organisational proposals to be put out to proper formal public consultation in their final documentation - possibly involving a referendum if one is demanded by electors.

Hopefully lots of people will have in their hearts my most recent words to my Staplegrove Parish Council: “The looming combination of pandemic, climate, environmental and resource depletion emergencies is something which will demand much greater cooperation and communal sharing ... with big change from consumerist to conservationist and much more self-sufficient lifestyle for everybody.”

Staplegrove Parish Councillor and Chair of Somerset Cooperative Community Land Trust