THE process of setting up a new council to cover Taunton has been kickstarted to protect the town's interests when a mega countywide local authority is created.

The town council could manage assets and services such as parks, play areas, churchyards, cemeteries, the crematorium, allotments, car parks, public toilets and community centres.

The LibDem-run Somerset West and Taunton Council this week voted to begin a public consultation to see whether people support the proposed new town council.

They will also be asked whether it should cover the 'unparished' area, which is based on the size of the town in Victorian times, or the current built-up area, which has expanded significantly in more recent years.

A majority of councillors supported the creation of a town council of some description.

The LibDems made a manifesto pledge to establish a dedicated council for Taunton and believe that is more important now following the Government's decision to replace the county and four district councils with one countywide authority from April 2023.

Cllr Derek Perry, who will chair a community governance review working group looking into the issue, said Taunton would be left without a voice and unable to undertake services locally unless it had its own council.

The consultation over the coming months will include members of the public, parish councils, community groups and business federations, with a conclusion expected by next May and the first elections the following spring.

LibDem Cllr Mike Rigby, who proposed the motion to begin the consultation said: “This is great news for Taunton.

"I got into local politics, specifically to try and put the shine back on our county town.

"We can all see how it has declined in recent years and since being elected as LibDems, we’ve got on with the task of renewal, for example creating a new pedestrian shopping environment in St James Street, pressing the button on the long talked about Coal Orchard regeneration project, now almost completed, and beginning work on the long-derelict Firepool site.

"We need to keep that momentum going and we can only do that if Taunton, like every other town in Somerset, has a council whose sole focus is to act as its champion.“

Independent Cllr John Hunt, who seconded the proposals, said: “This decision gives a great opportunity for the people of Taunton to say what they want their town council to look like, what they want it to do.”

  • What do you think about forming a Taunton town council - and what form should it take?